Vitality T20 Blast Finals Day 2023: Essex captain Simon Harmer hits 6 in last over to beat Hampshire and book final spot

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The first Vitality Blast T20 finals day semi-final gets underway at 11am

Essex have won the toss and will bowl first in the first semi-final of Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston. Captain Simon Harmer put Hampshire into bat as the sun shone through in Birmingham, of course everyone had their eyes on the skies and the weather forecasts. 

Hampshire are defending champions of the competition winning the 2022 competition, and Essex last won the trophy back in 2019.

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Aaron Beard opened the bowling for Essex, with Ben McDermott and James Vince opening for Hampshire, a lovely four off the pads was hit by McDermott to get Hampshire underway. Hampshire hit 14 from the first over, with Vince opening his bat with two fours.

The first six of the day came from McDermott and it was a beautiful, flat six down the ground off the bowling of Sams. Hampshire were not messing about at all in Birmingham. Hampshire move to 29-0 from just two overs.

The third over saw McDermott play a scoop shot which despite not timing, ran away for another four. A drive down the ground for four in the fourth over was followed with him losing his wicket. He went for 29 and Hampshire were 39-1. Tom Prest was the new man in.

Hampshire captain Vince was caught driving to go big, he gave himself room but his effort was caught. The tournament's leading run scorer in the 2023 season was gone for 12. 45-2 from four overs.

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Hampshire's 50 was brought up by Prest who pulled Cook for four. 51-2 from 5 overs. The 7th over produced the third wicket. An LBW decision went upstairs to show a clear decision, Prest departed for 10 and suddenly Essex were taking the game back from Hampshire. 57-3 with Liam Dawson next in to bat.

Sams almost pulled off a superb catch, throwing the ball back over the rope but not quite being able to catch it on the way back in. Hampshire 64-3.

The Essex spinners put the squeeze on in the middle overs, and after 9 overs they were 77-3. The sun was shining over Edgbaston, but dark clouds hovered over Birmingham.

Shane Snater of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of James VInce of Hampshire with teammates during the Vitality Blast Semi-Final match between Essex Eagles and Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on July 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)Shane Snater of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of James VInce of Hampshire with teammates during the Vitality Blast Semi-Final match between Essex Eagles and Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on July 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Shane Snater of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of James VInce of Hampshire with teammates during the Vitality Blast Semi-Final match between Essex Eagles and Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on July 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images) | Getty

Liam Dawson's frustrating innings came to an end as his scooped effort was held onto by Critchley. 78-4 and Essex continued to put the pressure on. Hampshire ticked to 100 in the 13th over, Fuller hit the ball directly up, but landed safely between two fielders. 101-4 from 13 overs.

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Fuller did depart soon after, caught in the deep for 15 and Hampshire found themselves 110-5 in the 15th over. Ross Whiteley joined Joe Weatherley out in the Edgbaston sun.

Hampshire needed to get a move on, and Weatherely nailed Harmer down the ground for a thunderous six. He moved onto 39 runs.

The sixth wicket was Whiteley trying to go hard, but he only succeeded in going home with a mistimed effort looping into the hands of the fielder. Benny Howell came out to bat with Hampshire 130-6 with three overs left.

In the 18th over Weatherley cut the ball away for four to reach his 50 which he reached from 33 deliveries- a shining light in a sluggish Hampshire innings. The 150 for Hampshire was brought up with he final ball of the 19th over.

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Weatherley got lucky in the final over as a slogged effort fell almost perfectly between three fielders. Howell was even more fortunate with the next ball when he was dropped off a fairly easy looking chance. Howell followed this up with a huge six over long-on into the stands. 170-6 with one ball left.

With the last ball, Howell was caught on the rope for 22 from 11. Hampshire end their 20 overs on 170-7.

Essex innings

Dan Lawrence of Essex Eagles plays a shot during the Vitality Blast T20 Semi-Final 1 match between Essex Eagles and Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on July 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)Dan Lawrence of Essex Eagles plays a shot during the Vitality Blast T20 Semi-Final 1 match between Essex Eagles and Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on July 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Dan Lawrence of Essex Eagles plays a shot during the Vitality Blast T20 Semi-Final 1 match between Essex Eagles and Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on July 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images) | Getty

Essex made a bad start to their reply as Adam Rossington fell for just 1. Turner was causing some issues with his short stuff. The floodlights were turned on as Edgbaston was swamped with gloom.

Dan Lawrence was given a reprieve when his poorly timed shot high into the sky was dropped by Liam Dawson in the field. The rain arrived after 2.5 overs of the Essex innings.

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After an hour off, the players returned to a revised total. The new target for Essex was 115 from 12 overs, with Essex 19-1 from 2.5 overs. In the 5th over, Lawrence opened his arms and sent Benny Howell into the stands.

Michael Pepper went for 17 when his attempted hit launched straight up- a key breakthrough for Hampshire. 47-2 from 5.2 overs. Two balls later, Lawrence edged behind going for a big slog- Essex stalling at 48-3.

The wickets kept on coming and Walter was the next Essex man to trudge back to the dressing room. He was trapped LBW by Turner. Essex 50-4 and still 65 away from victory.

In the 8th over Sams flicked a beautiful maximum over the rope in front of the Hollies stand. 70-4 and Essex were not out of this one just yet. The next over and Critchley joined in the fun- a huge six down the ground off Turner.

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Turner was targeted again and Sams pulled him high and wide for 6. 32 runs from 21 needed now and a real contest had developed.

In the 10th over Sams hit a huge 6 which landed in front of the Hollies, but the very next ball he tried for the same down towards the offside but was caught on the boundary. 95-5 and 20 needed from 2 overs, captain Harmer joined Critchley in the middle.

Essex needed 13 from the final over. Nathan Ellis had the ball in hand. Critchley hit the first ball very far back into the stand down the ground. A huge blow to Hampshire. Essex won it with a huge 6 from Harmer. Hampshire, the holders, are out.

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