Neil McKenzie held his nerve to see Hampshire through to a third straight Friends Life t20 finals day.
The former South Africa Test star led the Royals to a thrilling last-ball win over Nottinghamshire last night.
McKenzie was the calmest man in Trent Bridge – despite suffering a late injury – as he blazed a majestic 79 not out to ensure the Royals successfully chased down the Outlaws’ score of 178 for seven in a nail-biting finish.
Needing 12 runs off the final over of a pulsating contest, the 36-year-old veteran shrugged off a bout of cramp to find the late boundaries and overhaul the imposing total.
As wickets fell around him, McKenzie proved his worth to the Royals to keep his head and guide the team to next month’s finals day in Cardiff.
A semi-final against their familiar foes Somerset now awaits, with the winners facing either Sussex or Yorkshire in the final on the same day.
Delighted skipper Dimi Mascarenhas, who played a vital late role with the bat as he finished 19 not out alongside McKenzie, said: ‘It’s awesome to win because it was tight all the way through.
‘It was a great performance from the boys.
‘Everyone played their part because we were right up against it at one stage.
‘But we had Mac the old master there at the end. His knock was absolutely awesome.
‘We can’t wait for finals day now and we’ve got a great chance to win the trophy again.’