James Vince savoured a career-best score in t20 cricket as he led his side to a sensational win at Nottinghamshire to book a return to finals day.
The Hampshire skipper hit an electrifiying 93 not out as his side chased down the Outlaws’ imposing total of 197 for two at Trent Bridge.
With few ready to back a successful chase, Vince led from the front in superb style, hammering 11 fours and four sixes in his 51-ball knock that took the game away from the hosts.
It secured a fifth successive appearance at finals day as Hampshire chase a third t20 crown in five years.
And Vince admitted his innings was as important as any he has previously played.
He said: ‘It’s my first year as captain so it’s extra special for me.
‘There was a bit of pressure after we had reached four in a row to make sure we got there again.
‘Coming away to Notts, who are a very good side, it’s a very pleasing win.
‘To reach five finals days in a row is a great achievement and it probably means a little bit more this year as captain.
‘For me personally, it’s right up there.
‘I got man of the match a few years ago in a quarter-final at Warwickshire and that meant a lot at the time.
‘This time as captain, chasing a score like that and to see it through, is right up there with one of my best innings.’
The 23-year-old is in his first full year as captain in the Natwest T20 Blast after succeeding Dimi Mascarenhas.
And it underlines how he has grown into the role that he had to issue a reminder to his side at the interval that they were still very much in the hunt.
He said: ‘Everyone at the halfway stage would have been thinking that Notts would cruise to victory.
‘At half-time, the dressing room was a little bit quiet but there was still belief there.
‘We weren’t going to go out there and give up. I just told them to have no doubts.
‘We were chasing 10 an over so we had to be positive from ball one.
‘There was no point in restraining yourself and holding anything back.
‘We had to go out and be positive and it was really pleasing to do that.’
It also showed Vince’s growing maturity as a cricketer that he stuck to his task when Hampshire lost two quick wickets and looked like the wheels were about to come off.
He said: ‘When you have a partnership going, you can keep playing with freedom but when you lose a couple of wickets as we did, I knew I couldn’t afford to get out at that point.
‘I’ve seen the innings through but Sean Ervine, Michael Carberry and everyone else was brilliant to keep up with the run-rate.
‘We’ve shown we are a match for anyone and we look forward to playing Lancashire in the semi-finals.
‘But it’s fantastic that we’re at finals day again.
‘It’s a great day and a day you want to be involved in as a cricketer.
‘There is a packed house and you don’t want to miss out on it. We will be ready.’