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County side in final

Ezra Stuart

County side in final

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ENGLAND’S Twenty20 cricket champions Hampshire are one victory away from becoming the Caribbean Twenty20 kings as well.
The Hampshire outfit narrowly defeated a spirited Windward Islands team by four runs in a thrilling first day-night semi-final at Kensington Oval last night to book a place in tonight’s final against either Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago.
   Led by a superb 88 from their stocky South African-born opening batsman Johannes Myburgh, which was adorned with six sixes and five fours off 58 balls, Hampshire posted a challenging total of 166 for four.
   The Windwards made a grand attempt to reach the victory target, with Andre Fletcher topscoring with a measured 44 of 43 balls, but fell four runs short, ending on 162 for seven after getting 14 of the 18 runs required off the final over from former England Test bowler Simon Jones.
   Twenty-one-year-old medium pacer Hamza Riazuddin, who finished with the excellent figures of four for 15, tilted the match firmly Hampshire’s way with a telling triple strike in the 16th over.
   He dismissed opposing captain Darren Sammy, who made a breezy 20 off 13 balls with two sixes and a four, Fletcher (3×4, 1×6) and Gary Mathurin (two) to add to the key wicket of Devon Smith, who had a cameo 22-ball knock of 27 with three fours and a six.
   With an uphill task to score 51 runs from the last four overs, lower order batsman Mervin Matthew raised the Windwards’ hopes again when he hit three fours and a six in 27 not out off 15 balls, but Hampshire still prevailed.
   After winning the toss and batting, Myburgh made the Windwards pay dearly for a dropped catch on 28 by Sammy, running back from extra-cover off rookie leg-spinner Keron Cottoy.
   New batsman James Vince and a limping Myburgh, who had to use Jimmy Adams as his runner but surprisingly bowled two overs of off-spin when Hampshire fielded, then featured in a second-wicket partnership of 75 in 9.2 overs.
   Cottoy, after bowling three fairly tidy overs, was struck for three sixes in his final over as Vince swung him over mid-wicket and long-on while Myburgh, a player with 13 first-class centuries, also lifted him a straight six.
   The 30-year-old Myburgh, who broke Graeme Pollock’s record when he was just 17 years old to become the youngest South African to hit a double century in first-class cricket, brought up his 50 off 44 balls with a leg glance to the boundary.
   Next over, Myburgh swung Sammy for a huge six over midwicket but he lost Vince, run out for 36, after the pair had added 75 runs for the second wicket in 9.3 overs.
   But Myburgh continued to flay the bowling, and when Peters came back for a second over, he smashed him onto the Media Centre for a straight six and lifted the next ball wide of long-on for four.
   In the penultimate over, he hoisted pacer Nelon Pascal for another six but after getting on strike with four balls remaining in the last over, he was yorked by Matthew.
   In reply, the Windwards suffered an early setback when Johnson Charles fell for nine but Smith and Fletcher gave them hope by adding 64 for the second wicket in 8.1 overs.
   Smith was caught behind, dabbing at Riazuddin, while Keddy Lesporis was run out for six. And once Sammy was caught by Liam Dawson inside the midwicket boundary and Fletcher swiftly stumped off successive balls from Riazuddin, the Windwards’ hopes of reaching the final all but disappeared.