Hampshire Hawks confirmed their place at Vitality Blast Finals Day at the expense of Notts Outlaws with a two-run victory at Trent Bridge in front of a 14,038-strong crowd.
The Hawks had won quarter-finals at Trent Bridge in 2012 and 2014, but the chances of a repeat looked remote after they posted a modest 125 after being asked to bat first.
The Outlaws looked on course for their fifth Finals Day appearance in six years at 66 for one in the eighth over, but collapsed to 123 all out, left-arm spinner Liam Dawson taking three for 24 and two wickets each for seamers Scott Currie and Brad Wheal.
Only 18-year-old Tom Prest (44) and James Fuller (30) made any impression with the bat for the Hawks, whose total was their smallest of the campaign. Dane Paterson took three for 22 and there were two each for the Outlaws’ leading wicket-taker Calvin Harrison and off-spinner Matt Carter, who did not concede a boundary in his miserly two for 18.
Yet it proved enough as the Outlaws, for whom Joe Clarke top-scored with 42, faltered, losing seven wickets for 30 runs to go from 66 for one to 96 for eight in eight frenzied overs, and Carter’s 23 off 13 balls at the death proved in vain.
Hampshire’s qualification looked a remote prospect as they lost D’Arcy Short and James Vince in struggling to 26 for two in the Powerplay, which became 34 for three as Joe Weatherley departed. Quickly frustrated by tight bowling on a grippy surface, Short pulled straight to midwicket, Vince top-edged to third man and Weatherley miscued to fine leg.
Two in two balls from Harrison against his former county turned the screw further as the leg-spinner pushed one through to bowl Lewis McManus and induced a return catch from Liam Dawson. At 40 for five, Hampshire were on the ropes.
Prest survived the hat-trick ball and he and Fuller added 49 in 39 balls but, after picking up sixes off Harrison and Steven Mullaney, Fuller attempted to do the same to Carter and was caught on the midwicket boundary. Prest himself smashed Paterson for six over long-off before finding the fielder at deep backward square, before Paterson then had Scott Currie leg before to a full-length ball and Chris Wood skied to extra cover.
In reply, Alex Hales lofted Liam Dawson disdainfully for six over extra cover as the Outlaws began their chase, but though the left-arm spinner gained revenge as the home side’s most prolific run-getter holed out to long-off for 19, it was the Hawks’ sole success in a Powerplay that cost 53 runs.
Yet the Outlaws struggled after Ben Duckett was run-out by Fuller’s direct hit, Tom Moores fell lbw to leg-spinner Mason Crane, Clarke lofted straight to extra cover, Samit Patel, dropped on four, fell victim to a sharp stumping off a leg-side wide and Ben Slater slashed to backward point.
Harrison and Mullaney holed out to deep square leg in consecutive balls off Currie and though Carter raised home hopes again by clubbing two sixes in three balls off Chris Wood after Luke Fletcher had been ninth man out to leave the Outlaws needing three of the last six balls, Paterson could not give him the strike and after three dots his edge gave Lewis McManus the catch.