MATCH PREVIEW: Hampshire vs Lancashire
Hampshire v Lancashire
Royal London One-Day Cup, semi-final
The Ageas Bowl
Sunday May 12, 11.30am
The defending champions stand between Lancashire and a first Lord’s final in 13 years.
Hampshire advanced straight through to the semi-final stage courtesy of finishing top of the South Group. They beat Kent at Lord’s last June and have continued their good form in this season’s competition, winning seven of their eight group matches.
But they face a buoyant Red Rose side who beat Middlesex in the eliminator clash at Lord’s yesterday, defending a 305 target to win by 20 runs.
Keaton Jennings, Steven Croft and Dane Vilas starred with the bat, posting 96, 68 and 70 not out respectively in a commanding total of 304-4 on a challenging pitch.
Then, with the new ball, Jimmy Anderson and Saqib Mahmood (4-38) were outstanding as the hosts’ top order were blown away - 24-5 in 10 overs. And, not surprisingly, they failed to recover, despite a superb sixth-wicket stand of 197 between centurion James Harris and John Simpson heightening Lancashire’s nerves.
This will be the second one-day game in two days at the Ageas Bowl, with England facing Pakistan in the second ODI of that particular series today.
Nottinghamshire host Somerset in the other semi-final.
Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas will hope everyone pulls up well from yesterday’s win ahead of Lancashire’s second game in the space of 72 hours.
Otherwise, it is difficult to see how they will change a winning team.
Even if pitch conditions dictate the need for more spin, the return of Liam Livingstone from the IPL is a big bonus, while Croft’s off-spin was not utilised at Lord’s. Then, there is always Rob Jones and Jake Lehmann waiting in the wings to bowl the odd over here and there.
Hampshire are hoping captain James Vince will be released by England to play.
Vince is in England’s ODI squad for the Pakistan series, and is likely to be named in their World Cup squad as well. But he was due to miss today’s clash at the Ageas Bowl, with Jason Roy fit again after a back injury.
That has left Hampshire hopeful their skipper will be made available. No doubt, if he’s not, it would be a huge boost for the Red Rose.
One man who is definitely not available is South African batsman Aiden Markram, who has departed for World Cup duty. Markram is their leading run-scorer in the competition with 466.
Hampshire are an extremely consistent white ball side.
Since Lancashire last reached a Lord’s final in 2006, a C&G Trophy defeat against Sussex, Hampshire have won this competition, or its equivalent, on three occasions in 2009, 2012 and last season. They have also won the T20 Blast twice.
Hampshire’s only loss in the group stages came against Essex at Chelmsford when they failed to chase a 342 target and lost by 111 runs.
Now coached by Adrian Birrell, the South African-born former Ireland coach, Hampshire have topped 300 on five occasions this season and have been fired by Markram and Vince, who have both passed the 400-run mark.
Former South Africa seamer Kyle Abbott has taken 20 wickets and England fringe all-rounder Liam Dawson 17 with his canny left-arm spinners.
Just a couple of days after Lancashire had beaten Kent in the T20 Blast quarter-finals in August 2015, a competition they would go on to win, the Red Rose won a RL50 group clash against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Opener Ashwell Prince and fellow South African Alviro Petersen anchored a total of 301-4 with 102 and 82 respectively, the pair sharing 147 for the second wicket.
In reply Adam Wheater hit 111 from number three, but the hosts stumbled from 173-3 in the 33rd over and were bowled out for 272.
Kyle Jarvis claimed three wickets and James Faulkner, Stephen Parry and Simon Kerrigan two apiece.
Hampshire were later knocked out at the quarter-final stage, but Lancashire did not get out of the group.
WHAT THEY SAID
It has been an impressive start to the season for Lancashire, and they are hoping to secure the significant reward of a Lord’s final appearance tomorrow.
After yesterday’s victory over Middlesex, both captain Dane Vilas and man-of-the-match Saqib Mahmood spoke about the buzz within the Red Rose changing room.
Champions Hampshire lie in wait and will provide a stiff challenge. But it is a hurdle the players believe they are more than capable of overcoming.
“We’ve got a good vibe in the group at the moment,” said Vilas.
“We’ve got some good players, some good youngsters putting their hands up and wanting to do well for Lancashire. It’s always good to play in these sorts of games. It’s where we want to be. Hopefully that continues.”
Mahmood echoed those thoughts, saying the group is “relaxed”.
Mahmood is now the joint leading wicket-taker in the competition with 25 wickets after his four-for at the Home of Cricket, while Jimmy Anderson was also superb in taking one wicket and affecting two direct hit run outs.
“To bowl well in partnership with him and have him at mid-off talking to me, it’s amazing,” added Mahmood. “It’s special.”
Vilas added: “Jimmy’s record has been so good in red ball cricket, but even with the white ball he’s upped his skills. He’s been really good for us as a team.
“There’s so much knowledge and experience he can pass on to a young guy like Saqib.
“Saqib has been unbelievable. Keeping wicket to him, every ball’s an event. I feel like I’m going to get a catch every ball.
“It’s great to watch, and hopefully it continues for us.”