Royals must prove class to continue reign

Hampshire's James Vince hits a six during the NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, Birmingham. PPP-170309-212743001

Hampshire start T20 Blast campaign against Glamorgan

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Dimi Mascarenhas has warned his Hampshire side against complacency as they target a fourth consecutive t20 finals day.

The Royals have breezed into the quarter-finals – where they welcome Lancashire Lightning to the Ageas Bowl tonight (7.10pm).

Suffering just a single defeat, they topped the competitive south group to earn a crucial home draw.

The defending champions are on the hunt for a third t20 crown in four seasons, after picking up their maiden success on home turf in 2010.

Hampshire defeated tonight’s rivals in the Yorkshire Bank 40 competition earlier this term.

But while all the form points to a home win, Mascarenhas is refusing to take anything for granted.

And the skipper will not be letting his Royals team-mates get carried away, either.

He said: ‘Last year we definitely weren’t the most consistent team in the tournament.

‘But this year we have put in some really good performances throughout.

‘Only losing once has been brilliant – but it means nothing unless we win tonight.

‘We play cricket to win finals and we have got ourselves in a position to win a quarter-final – now’s the time to go out there and do it.

‘This is a totally different competition (to the YB40).

‘It doesn’t matter what has gone before.

‘We have hardly beaten Lancashire in my time as a cricketer, so no doubt it is going to be a tough game.’

Mascarenhas is relishing the opportunity to lock horns with ex-Royals Simon Katich and Kabir Ali.

He recognises they are key men in the Lancashire line-up – but believes the home crowd can prove the catalyst for a Hampshire triumph.

The all-rounder said: ‘Pretty much the whole team has played a lot of finals now.

‘That is a huge plus. And being at home – and having that advantage – will be key for us.

‘We have played exceptionally well here and that’s got a lot to do with the fans.

‘We get great support, they are always cheering for us and I think the opposition find it a bit daunting coming here with the big stadium and the big crowds.

‘We have to turn up and play our very best cricket to beat these guys, though.

‘They have got some stars in their team – and they have some very consistent performers.

‘It is always nice to play against Kat – it would be nicer to play with him, though!

‘I have played against him for a long time now, we are good mates and it is always fun.

‘His form has been unbelievable in all forms of the game.

‘Along with Stephen Moore at the top of the order, they have been exceptional.

‘But I can’t go through them all – they are all capable of winning games for them.

‘On the bowling front, Mitch McClenaghan has come in and taken wickets for them at crucial times.

‘Then there is Kabir and Glen Chapple – the list goes on.

‘But hopefully I don’t have to do too much – and the lads go out there and do the job, that’s what I’d love to see.’

The major selection headache for the Royals is in the bowling attack.

David Griffiths helped Hampshire top the south group, while Pakistan paceman Sohail Tanvir missed the final two fixtures because of international duty.

Tanvir is back in the frame now, though, and pushing for a return.

Off the field, Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove will lead the post-match entertainment at the Ageas Bowl tonight.

He will be hoping he is celebrating victory when he takes to the stage with his band – Strapped For Cash.