Since they defeated Lancashire Lightning essex Eagles all-rounder Ravi Bopara steered his side to their first Vitality Blast Finals Day.
The former England player hit an unbeaten 39 from 18 balls, sharing a venture of 60 using skipper Ryan ten Doeschate (45 from 31) to chase the Red Rose target with four deliveries to spare.
Lancashire opener Alex Davies had batted from 55 balls in their full of 159-5 during his side’s 20 overs for an 80 – however it wasn’t enough for success in their own tie.
Put in to bat on a slow pitch, and Lancashire found it tough to make headway after they lost Liam Livingstone (4) in the first over, bowled moving across the line to Aaron Beard.
Bopara (2-28) accounted for Steven Croft (8) with his first ball and claimed the prize wicket of Glenn Maxwell (14), leg prior to one which kept low – though the playoffs revealed it might have missed leg stump.
However, Dane and Davies Vilas regrouped, with running between the wickets enabling them to place a venture of 89 from 67 balls and place the Lightning back.
Vilas, who registered the only half the innings, finally holed out to 41 off 36 balls, but Davies remained in the crease, using the ramp and paddle shots to lift Lancashire above the 150 mark.
Essex had obtained just 19 deliveries in response, together with Tom Westley (8) giving Saqib Mahmood a return catch, prior to the rain descended and compelled a 25-minute delay.
Cameron Delport (44 from 30) started to accelerate following the resumption, piercing the infield as he hit three boundaries off a James Faulkner over to haul Essex over the essential run-rate.
But the Lightning hit back with two wickets in consecutive balls – Delport caught at long-on providing Maxwell the charge prior to Josh Bohannon’s arrow arm from the deep ran out Adam Wheater (13).
Faulkner’s diving grab in long-off to discount Dan Lawrence (15) was even more spectacular – nevertheless it paved the way for ten Doeschate and Bopara to combine forces for their match-winning venture.
Lancashire gambled by minding the penultimate around to bowler Livingstone and Bopara took full advantage, smashing two enormous sixes and incorporating a second off Matt Parkinson to seal the Eagles’ victory.
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