Sean Ervine admitted he had been given a huge shot of confidence going into Friends Life t20 finals day after leading Hampshire to a tremendous Yorkshire Bank 40 victory over Surrey.
The powerful Zimbabwean hit a match-winning 65 not out to steer the Royals to a three-wicket win over the same opponents they will face in the semi-final at Edgbaston tomorrow.
Surrey posted 219 for nine from their 40 overs with Zafar Ansari (62) top-scoring for Vikram Solanki’s side.
It was a competitive total that was way beyond where it might have been after the visitors were reduced to 79 for five early in their innings, only for Ansari and Rory Burns (49) to make a crucial stand.
But in reply, Hampshire then found themselves in real trouble as Michael Carberry and James Vince both suffered rare failures.
But even though the run-rate climbed to more than eight per over at one stage – and the Royals looked set for defeat – excellent contributions from Liam Dawson (40), Dimi Mascarenhas (31) and Ervine got the job done with eight balls to spare as the home side showed their capabilities once again and took a huge step towards qualification for the competition’s semi-finals.
Ervine said: ‘It’s not necessarily a psychological advantage for finals day.
‘We’ve got a lot of confidence and momentum in that competition and we need to do what we’ve been doing all along.
‘It did a lot for my confidence, though.
‘It’s nice to get a few runs under the belt and especially to be not out at the end.
‘It’s something I have been striving to do in one-day cricket – finish off games.
‘I was very pleased and it was a great game of cricket.’
The win was even more important with two more fixtures left of the group stages and Hampshire missing four players for their clash at Lancashire on Tuesday with Vince, Carberry and Danny Briggs on England Lions duty and Sohail Tanvir’s spell at the club set to end.
Ervine said: ‘We are missing four guys next week.
‘But this win takes a little bit of pressure off us.’
The all-rounder also admitted his relief at a key point in the game when he was dropped on 46 – with the Royals still needing 51 runs to win – as Ansari put down a catch that had been launched into the night sky.
Ervine said: ‘I thought “what have I done?” but luckily, they probably dropped the wrong person.
‘We had already kicked on but you don’t want to leave it to the next guy coming in.
‘I knew that all of the leg-side fielders were up but I skied it and luckily Zafar dropped it.
‘It was great to get the win.
‘In terms of where we want to be in this competition, it was a very important win for us.’