- Friends Life t20
Yorkshire end finals drought
Yorkshire reached their first T20 Finals Day with a 29-run win over Worcestershire, inspired by Joe Root's maiden Twenty20 half-century, not to mention an impudent piece of fielding on the deep midwicket boundary that brought a boisterous Headingley crowd to their feet.
Root also opened the bowling - admittedly to slightly less spectacular effect - in a display that will have again given the England selectors a tug on the sleeve.
Phil Hughes' unorthodox power and placement helped keep Worcestershire in the game but his unbeaten 80 was not enough, as fellow Australia international Mitchell Starc returned to keep a lid on the final overs, finishing with 3 for 24 from his allocation. In the face-off between the tournament's leading runscorer and its leading wicket-taker, Starc was the victor on points.
The visitors, who were also aiming to reach Finals Day for the first time, kept pace with the Yorkshire par score but were lacking the blast of nitrous oxide provided by the batting of David Miller and Gary Ballance, who hammered 82 from the last five overs earlier in the day. A similar power-up was not forthcoming from the Worcestershire middle order, despite forceful twenties from James Cameron and Gareth Andrew.
Elsewhere, Hampshire will have an opportunity to win their second Friends Life t20 title in three seasons after a dramatic victory over Nottinghamshire sent them to a third consecutive finals day.
Neil McKenzie, who had been woefully out of form in the competition until this evening, was the man largely responsible for squeezing an improbable victory from a match that appeared to have slipped away from them, finishing 79 not out from 49 balls.
The 36-year-old South African - Hampshire's star when they beat Somerset in the final two years ago - stole the glory from Samit Patel, whose 60 and three wickets looked likely to be the match-winning performance after Hampshire began the 17th over still needing 46 runs with six wickets down.
But against a relatively inexperienced Nottinghamshire attack, lacking the injured Darren Pattinson and, of course, with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann unavailable, McKenzie and his captain, the equally wordly Dimitri Mascarenhas, found a way to do what was needed.