Dimi Mascarenhas expressed his relief as Hampshire scrambled home to Friends Life t20 finals day by the skin of their teeth.
The Royals will take their place at Edgbaston on August 17 for the showpiece after the pulsating one-run success over Lancashire Lightning at the Ageas Bowl.
But while it so nearly ended in catastrophic defeat – with the visitors making a tremendous effort to chase down Hampshire’s 202 for three – Mascarenhas remained confident his men would get home.
He said: ‘Thankfully, we snuck home by one run.
‘I never thought we had thrown it away.
‘I just thought they batted exceptionally well to get so close.
‘But there were a lot of relieved people out there.
‘It’s not often you get 200 and lose a game – we certainly didn’t want to do that.
‘I’ve played in many games that have gone very close and that was just another one.
‘I thought we were just ahead all the way but it’s t20 cricket and anything can happen.
‘All credit to Lancashire – I actually feel a little bit sorry for them because they batted fantastically.
‘Just when we thought we would sneak away, they kept coming back.
‘They bowled well in the last four overs and I thought we should have got a few more than 202.
‘But it was a huge relief to get the win and now we can look forward to another finals day.’
Mascarenhas reserved special praise for batsman Michael Carberry, who hit an unbeaten century.
He said: ‘Carbs was fantastic. In quarter-finals, the big players come out to play and he has shown he is a big gun again.
‘It’s nice to get to a fourth straight finals day but that will mean nothing if we go there and lose the first game.
‘Now we are there, we are there to win.’