Dimi: Season hinges on t20 clash

Hants' all-rounder Dimi Mascarenhas

Hants' all-rounder Dimi Mascarenhas

Michael Comber bats for Suffolk in Minor Counties group stage match against Bedfordshire     PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Suffolk turn their attention to longer format as they prepare to face Buckinghamshire in opening Unicorns Championship fixture

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Dimi Mascarenhas admits Hampshire’s season hinges on their Friends Life t20 showdown with Durham tomorrow.

The former England all-rounder knows that the Rose Bowl outfit face an increasingly tall order to preserve their LV County Championship division one status after their latest clash ended in a tedious draw with Yorkshire yesterday.

But there should be significantly more excitement in tomorrow’s quarter-final at the Rose Bowl with a full house and a place in finals day at Edgbaston up for grabs.

Mascarenhas said: ‘We know it’s a massive game for the club.

‘We haven’t done very well in the other formats this year. T20 has been our game so hopefully we can get through this one and get to finals day again.

‘It’s the natural progression.

‘We’re out of everything else and can’t win anything other than this competition.

‘We can still mathematically stay up in the Championship but we can’t go anywhere in the CB40.

‘So it’s huge for the morale of the players to try to win something and huge for the club to win a trophy.’

The Royals are defending champions in the shortest format of the game and have excelled in the 20-over blasts with just two defeats in 13 completed games in this year’s competition.

But it makes a mockery of their four-day struggles where they remain rooted to the foot of LV County Championship division one and heading for relegation.

Mascarenhas said: ‘The two formats are so different that it’s hard to compete in both forms.

‘You look around the counties and some do well in the Championship and not so well in the one-dayers or t20. But it’s weird how it’s happened for us this year.

‘We didn’t start well and by the time t20 came long, we had only won one game.

‘It came at a really good time for us, a couple of new players came into the set-up in Imran Tahir, Shahid Afridi and I came back in as well.

‘A few new faces can add a different enthusiasm and I suppose that rubbed off on a lot of people.

‘We created a different atmosphere with the new guys coming in and winning our first game against Somerset really helped.’

Mascarenhas is Hampshire’s leading wicket-taker in the competition with 20 victims to his name and has picked up important wickets at the top of the order throughout this year’s run.

And he is aware that he will need to be at his potent best again to oust a capable Durham side.

He said: ‘We know that they are a very dangerous side.

‘Up front, Phil Mustard and Ian Blackwell can take the game away from you in a few overs so we’ve got to be wary of that.

‘They’ve got Dale Benkenstein in the middle, who I think is a class player. If they do get into trouble, he is the one who digs them out.

Then they also have Paul Collingwood and Ben Stokes and they are two guys who can cause problems.

‘With the ball, they have got some real firepower in Graham Onions and Mitchell Claydon.

‘So it should be a great game.’

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