Lancashire set up a meeting with Northants in the final of the Natwest t20 Blast as they beat Hampshire by six wickets, reaching their total of 116 with an over to spare in the second semi-final at Edgbaston.
On a pitch that proved once again not easy to score quickly on, Hampshire were bowled out for 115 from the penultimate ball, only James Vince getting to grips with conditions, his 69 making up over half his side’s score.
Lancashire were always in control of the run chase, but needed 19 overs to reach the target: Karl Brown with a composed 45 to anchor the innings, before James Faulkner sealed the Red Rose’s place in the final with consecutive sixes.
The win booked their place in the final for the second successive year, having also beaten Hampshire in the semi-finals last year, where they will take on a Northants side, who earlier beat Birmingham by five wickets.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Hampshire struggled against Lancashire’s trio of spinners, Stephen Parry, Aaron Lilly and Steven Croft, as Vince apart, the other ten batsmen contributed just 40 between them.
Thirteen of those came from Michael Carberry, whose stand of 33 with Vince got Hampshire off to a decent start, after Gavin Griffiths had bowled a maiden in the first over of his debut for Lancashire in t20.
Carberry hit back to back boundaries off Faulkner, but tried to hit George Edwards over mid-off and sliced a catch to mid-off, Adam Wheater strangled down the leg side of his first delivery to end the powerplay on 37-2.
Edwards bowled one more over, twice hit to the fence by Vince, but Lancashire soon went for the spinners in combination and dried up the boundaries, 19 runs coming in a six over period all in singles.
They also lost three wickets in that period as Parry took 3-21 from his four overs, bowling a charging Oasis Shah, whose 12 was the only other double figure score, before Sean Ervine and Liam Dawson were trapped LBW by Parry attempting to sweep.
Vince found a boundary with his seventh four en route to a 47-ball 50, but was receiving no support from his team mates, as both Chris Wood and Yasir Arafat were bowled by Arron Lilley, who finished with the remarkable figures of 4-0-11-2.
Having earlier taken the wicket of Will Smith, Faulkner returned to end Vince’s resistance in the final over, the captain trying to go big and skying a catch to Jos Butler, before Fidel Edwards was caught and bowled as Hampshire were dismissed for the lowest ever score on Finals Day.
Needing less than a run a ball Lancashire opted for the safe and steady approach to the run chase, taking 19 overs to book their place in the final, but always looking in total control.
After two early boundaries, Ashwell Prince played on off Edwards for 14, but Hampshire couldn’t find the glut of early wickets they needed to put any pressure on Lancashire. An Edwards no-ball proved costly as Davies chipped it to mid-on but survived.
At 47-1 from the powerplay, Vince turned to spin immediately and after Dawson’s first over, Briggs trapped Davies LBW for 18, as 11 runs came from their first four overs combined, included a maiden for Dawson, whose four overs went wicketless for 19.
After reaching the halfway mark in overs exactly halfway to the total at 58-2, Brown broke the shackles with a thick edge for four off Dawson, before clubbing him over midwicket. However, Croft never looked settled and after scoring nine from 20 deliveries, pulled Will Smith straight to deep midwicket.
Even Jos Butler struggled with the pace of an ever-slowing pitch, chipping Briggs for four over cover, but tried to repeat the shot off the following delivery and was brilliantly caught by Ervine running round form mid-off.
Brown only hit four boundaries in his 43 ball stay as Lancashire continued to tick the runs over, and threatened to let things get closer than they should have with 11 needed from 12 balls.
But Faulkner launched Wood for the first six of the match high over midwicket, much to the delight of a crowd that had grown a little restless at the lack of sixes, and repeated the trick off the next ball to seal victory for Lancashire.