Ervine aiming for late charge to finals day

Sean Ervine inspired Hampshire. Picture: Oliver Zee
Sean Ervine inspired Hampshire. Picture: Oliver Zee
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Sean Ervine fired the Royals to Friends Life t20 success over Middlesex Panthers, then admitted: We still need three or four more wins.

The Zimbabwean smashed his first t20 half-century for two seasons as Hampshire clinched a crucial four-wicket victory at Richmond last night.

His unbeaten 75 off just 51 balls ensured the visitors reached their target of 157 with four balls to spare – and made it two wins in a row.

The triumph lifted the Royals off the bottom of an extremely tight South Group, and into third place as the battle for the quarter-finals hots up.

Only the top two sides in each of the three groups are guaranteed a last-eight spot, with the two best third-placed teams to join them.

And Ervine is doing his maths as Hampshire bid for a third consecutive finals day.

He said: ‘It’s such a tough group and we’re probably at the halfway stage now – maybe another three or four wins will get us there.

‘We’ve just got to go out there and try to win every game but the t20 can swing either way.

‘We’ve got to keep doing our basics and do them better than the opposition.

‘If we do that then hopefully we’ll be there or thereabouts.’

Ervine’s 69-run partnership with the recalled Simon Katich proved to be the turning point of last night’s clash with the Panthers.

Earlier, the Royals won the toss and – on a pitch expected to take some spin – opted to field.

But, as with the Panthers’ six-wicket win at the Ageas Bowl earlier this month, Paul Stirling (82 not out) and Dawid Malan (30 not out) did the damage with the bat.

Skipper Dimi Mascarenhas and Chris Wood took the two wickets to fall.

However, it was Glenn Maxwell’s four overs of off-spin for just 18 runs that really caught the eye – especially a rare t20 maiden over.

In reply, the visitors lost early wickets and were 41 for three when Ervine joined Katich in the middle.

After the Australian’s departure for a well-constructed 40, some lusty late blows from Mascarenhas ensured the Royals’ run chase was a success.

Ervine added: ‘I started off quite slowly but once I had got the pace of the wicket it all came together.

‘One of my goals at the beginning of this season was to try to finish off games and be there at the end – obviously I achieved that, which was great.

‘Partnerships are key – myself and Simon (Katich) batted really well and put on a decent partnership which won us the game in the end.

‘We thought that maybe they had scored 15 too many, but Glenn Maxwell bowled really well considering there were right-handers to bowl at and a short boundary at one end.’