Hampshire Hawks powered into the Vitality Blast final after beating Somerset by 37 runs in the second semi-final at sun-soaked Edgbaston, writes Brian Halford.
The Hawks will meet Lancashire Lightning in this evening's final (6.45PM) after disciplined bowling, supported by razor sharp fielding, enabled them to defend a total of 190 for six as Somerset were bowled out for 153 in 19,3 overs.
Hampshire's total was fuelled by Tom Prest's T20-best 64 (46 balls) supported by brisk, if brief, contributions from the rest of the top order. Roelof van der Meuwe was their biggest obstacle with a skilful spell of 4-0-29-2.
After their quarter-final demolition of Derbyshire, Somerset set out on their chase full of confidence, but it never took flight. This time the big guns misfired and only Tom Lammonby (34, 27 balls) reached 30 as James Vince's bowling unit, led by Liam Dawson (4-0-20-1) and Nathan Ellis (3.3-0-30-3) built excellent pressure.
After Hampshire chose to bat, their top order all contributed to a perky start. Vince struck 20 from 12 balls before chipping van der Meuwe to extra cover. Ben McDermott smashed 31 from 17 and looked dangerous until he hoisted Lewis Goldsworthy to mid off. The slow left armer then removed Joe Weatherly (24 , 19) thanks to a wonderful diving catch by Rilee Roussow at mid on.
Prest and Ross Whiteley (27,19) added 55 in 32 balls before both holed out. Prest thrashed van der Meuwe over the rope at mid-wicket but perished next ball trying to repeat the shot.
The 19-year-old's half-century had given Somerset plenty to do, though, and the Hawks quickly made inroads into their opponents' reply. Openers Will Smeed and Tom Banton, both potential match-winners, failed to reach double figures as the former lifted Ellis's third ball to mid on and the latter departed run out by Mason Crane's direct hit after hesitating over a single.
Calm catches from Weatherley ended the cameos of Roussouw (23, 20 balls) and Tom Abell (27, 21) and the regular loss of wickets kept the required run-rate on the rise. Lammonby kept his side in with a sliver of hope but that's all it was as 64 from the last four overs proved far too many. All of Somerset's top seven hit a six but none hit more than two and no one mastered the excellent Hawks bowling long enough to deliver the innings of required substance.
The Hawks deservedly went through to the final where they will attempt to lift the Blast trophy for the third time against a Lightning side aiming to secure it for the second.
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