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A lot has changed since first Hants v Lancs t20 quarter-final
MUCH has changed since Hampshire played their only other Twenty20 match against Lancashire, their first quarter-final in the shortest format, nine years ago.
Only two survivors from that game will be involved tonight - the respective captains, Dimi Mascarenhas and Glen Chapple. But while the personnel is very different, it is Hampshire’s approach and attitude to the short game that has changed most as they prepare for their fifth t20 quarter-final in as many years.
In 2004, perennial No. 11 Alan Mullally was considered good enough to bat as high as number NINE.
And having used the original Twenty20 Cup as a chance to rest from the rigours of the County Championship, then captain Shane Warne made his T20 debut in Hampshire’s first quarter-final – making a duck at No. 3.
Hampshire lost that game by nine wickets despite the best efforts of Mascarenhas and current Australia captain Michael Clarke.
Warne took T20 far more seriously when he captained Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural IPL title in 2008, since when Hampshire have reached five domestic quarter-finals in as many years with a vibrant young side packed with skilled all-rounders and some of the best fielders to have represented the county.
Hampshire’s improvement began in 2009 but after qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams, they lost by 13 runs to Northants at Wantage Road following an inspired all-round performance from Andrew Hall.
In 2010 they again squeezed into the last eight by winning their final group game. James Vince stunned Warwickshire with an unbeaten 66 at Edgbaston and the Royals went on to win arguably the best domestic T20 final, an Ageas Bowl thriller against Somerset.
Having topped the South Division with 11 wins from a possible 13 in 2011, their most consistent group campaign until this year, Hampshire beat Durham at the Ageas Bowl thanks to the seventh of Neil McKenzie’s nine Royals fifties.
They were denied in the semi-finals, Somerset avenging their defeat from 12 months earlier following a dramatic Super Over.
Hampshire’s most memorable t20 quarter-final was last year’s four-wicket win against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Following a below-par start to the t20 season, Hampshire had qualified as South Division runners-up behind Sussex and were 78-5 after ten overs chasing 179 – before beating Notts off the final ball thanks to McKenzie’s unbeaten 79.
Riding the wave of that euphoric win helped the Royals to a second t20 title in three years and nine wins from ten group games this year (they have 33 wins from their last 39 domestic t20 games).
But they know form will count for nothing as they bid to become the fourth team (after Surrey, Leicestershire and Somerset) to reach four successive Finals Days.
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