Hampshire missed out on a quarter-final spot after a nail-biting encounter saw them edged out by five runs against Somerset at the Ageas Bowl.
It seemed as if the hosts had done enough to secure a last-eight berth by restricting an already-qualified Somerset to 250-9, but wickets at the most inopportune times cost Hampshire, ultimately falling short on the last ball.
Their defeat, coupled with Kent’s victory against Sussex, sent Hampshire out despite half-centuries from Jimmy Adams and Will Smith.
Chasing 251, early Adams boundaries set his side on their way, firstly utilising his pin-point placement to pierce the off-side before launching a stunning straight drive to close off the ten-over Powerplay.
But shortly after reaching 50, Adams fell lbw to Roelof van der Merwe, the second scalp after Tom Alsop succumbed to Lewis Gregory’s third ball in much the same fashion. And when Wheater became the third lbw in quick succession, Hampshire’s efforts had hit the rocks.
It needed a cool partnership to ease the troubles, aptly provided by Liam Dawson and Smith before the captain departed for a run-a-ball 22 to the wily leg-spin of Max Waller.
It was to be the start of an acute evening for Waller, operating his rare role as a defensive leggie to tantalising effect, wiling 2-39 from ten overs.
But while Smith remained at the crease, Hampshire remained in with a fight. He brought up a 50 of his own from 77 balls – which contained just two boundaries – regularly watching wickets fall around him as Waller spun one beyond the defences of Ryan McLaren.
In Lewis McManus, Smith found a willing partner, making a format best 35 from 35 balls, but by the time he was bowled by Tim Groenewald’s 100th List A wicket, Smith was already back in the hutch while Gareth Berg had been run-out attempting to profit from an overthrow, in a real head-in-hands moment.
With 26 needed from 12 balls, the game remained in the balance, with two lusty blows – first into the stands and then a flick into leg – from Brad Wheal meant 12 was needed from the final set.
But a first-ball wicket – and a vital dot ball – saw Gareth Andrew depart, and while Wheal and Mason Crane scampered valiantly, the former was unable to repeat the dose and send Groenewald into the stands, instead presenting the bowler with an incredibly difficult caught-and-bowled chance which he impeccably snatched.
That all came after Somerset could only muster 250-9 from their quota, despite Allenby and Mahela Jayawardene looking commanding while putting on 108 for the first wicket.
The Sri Lankan in particular enjoyed some bullish stroke-play, unleashing a ramp and advancing to the pace of McLaren on his way to a 95th List-A half-century. The old hand was unleashing his style.
Such was the control of his innings that it was more than a surprise when Jayawardene perished for 55, with the impressive Mason Crane forcing the veteran into one shot too many.
Allenby (69) and Peter Trego held firm, however, taking the visitors to 149-1, but a collapse of 100-8 in just over 20 overs stunted their innings to register at least 30 short of par.
Allenby’s dismissal started the rot, with Wheal having him caught at short fine leg – despite the batsman questioning the validity of the delivery – scuppering his chances of obtaining a maiden format ton.
It was to get worse still for Somerset, losing Tom Abell and Trego soon after, while a disciplined bowling unit from Hampshire ensured there was no weak link to thrive upon, while James Hildreth will look back with bad fortune on Andrew’s stunning one-hander to send him back to the pavilion.
Despite being despatched by a classic leg-spin half-tracker, Crane delivered a standout performance to go for just 48, while his captain and fellow spinner Dawson chipped in with two late wickets of his own, as did Wheal and McLaren.
Beyond the top three, only Lewis Gregory (28) offered any semblance of resistance before being bowled by Dawson in the 46th over before having smart glovemanship from returnee Adam Wheater to thank as Groenewald was stumped.
Thankfully for Allenby and co it mattered little, despite edging over the line – with a home quarter-final already secured, there was the small matter of momentum and pride to play for, with Essex’s washout with Gloucestershire securing a home time with Worcestershire in the last eight.