Nathan Ellis leads Hampshire to the championship game with career-best figures

Nathan Ellis celebrates wickets

As a result of Nathan Ellis’ career-best performance against Worcestershire Rapids, the defending champion Hampshire Hawks will play Essex in the Vitality Blast semi final on Finals Day.

Chris Wood and John Turner both took two wickets, giving Ellis a total of 4 for 6, which was an outstanding bowling effort.

Usama Mir and Ed Pollock put on a brave 70-run partnership for the Rapids, but it was bookended by a collapse to 29 for 6 and the Rapids losing their final four wickets for just one run as they were bowled out for 100.

The Hawks struggled to the target to win by five wickets, reach their 10th Finals Day, and preserve their aspirations of being the first team to win the Blast back-to-back.

The Hawks had just once faced the Rapids in the Blast competition, and neither team had ever played a game there. In that instance, in 2015, James Vince slammed an undefeated century as Hampshire totaled 196 before Worcestershire reached 58 for 2, at which point the pitch at the New Road without floodlights became too dark.

In the midst of their first collapse, which started with a wicket in each of the first four overs, the Rapids might have daydreamed of a complete eclipse of the scorching evening sun and a power outage.

Chris Wood successfully caught and bowled Jack Haynes after a leading edge on the fourth delivery of the innings.

Fast bowler John Turner, who made his debut for the Blast, added Brett D’Oliveira as his 19th victim when he turned his leg stump following an attempted scoop.

Both Mitchell Santner and Adam Hose selected fielders, with Vince making a spectacular long on catch and Hose splicing to square leg, respectively.

Before Ben Cox chipped to midwicket and Kashif Ali was dismissed by James Fuller’s wicket maiden, two wicketless overs were but a brief break.

However, a 70-run stand between Mir and Pollock, including 16 runs off a Liam Dawson over, and a 50-run partnership off 45 balls with a six over long on, helped to turn the situation around.

Four wickets were lost in eight balls for one run to end a dismal innings in the second collapse, which was just as nasty as the first.

Mir’s thick outside edge off Benny Howell was easily held at short third before Ellis slashed the tail with three wickets in four balls, with Pat Brown leg before, Adam Finch yorked, and Dillon Pennington caught at cover.

Ben McDermott, who had a back spasm, was replaced by Aneurin Donald, who took over with the gloves and batted at the top of the order. Aneurin Donald smashed the opening ball of the retort through the leg side but edged behind shortly after.

Vince was caught at cover, but he now needs 20 runs to match his 678 runs from the previous season. If he accomplishes that, it would be the best three Blast seasons for him. It is not impossible that he could surpass his 710 runs in 2015, which served as his “annus mirabilis.”

Before being expertly caught playing the reverse sweep, Tom Prest had a merry-go-round 25 that included three fours and a six. Dawson also fell in a similar manner.

Joe Weatherley brought the run chase within five before skying, but the Hawks held onto their lead for a third Blast triumph and handed the Rapids their sixth quarterfinal loss in eight tries.

Hampshire 102 for 5 (Prest 25, Weatherley 25) beat Worcestershire 100 (Usama Mir 39, Ellis 4-6) by five wickets