Smith expects experience to count

Will Smith has admitted Hampshire play their best cricket when their backs are against the wall ahead of tomorrow’s must-win match with Somerset in the NatWest T20 South Group.

Hampshire are guaranteed to qualify for the quarter-finals for the seventh year in a row if they can beat Chris Gayle-less Somerset at the Ageas Bowl.

Hampshire were demolished in the reverse fixture by an aerial bombardment by Gayle who struck 85 from 49 balls – aided by a free-scoring Peter Trego – as the hosts chased 168 with nine balls to spare.

The south coast county have made life difficult for themselves having only won two of the last nine format matches.

Captain James Vince’s unbeaten 90 inspired Hampshire to a thrilling four-run derby victory against Sussex last Friday.

Yasir Arafat produced a last over piece of magic, only going for five in the final over with nine still needed, to push Hampshire over the line.

Hampshire progressed from the group stage last season with a late flurry of wins and eventually reached their fifth Finals Day on the spin.

Will Smith has backed Hampshire to cope with the pressure tomorrow and seal their place in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals

And Smith, who has contributed with both bat and ball in his two years at the Ageas Bowl, is keen to draw on the county’s 2014 experiences.

The former Durham and Nottinghamshire man said: “It is the true Hampshire way to leave it late.

“We needed to win three out the last four last year and it seems to be when people get motivated the most.

“The game down at Hove we knew we had to win and we produced a pretty special batting performance and some special bowling from Yasir Arafat at the end.

“It was phenomenally under high pressure because if we had lost that we would have been out. It is now down to Thursday.

“We’ve had this situations before and we are well versed in it and know what to expect and how to handle the expectation.

“We know we have a unit that can win against any team in any condition.”

Hampshire welcome Adam Wheater back into the side after he missed this week’s LV= County Championship match with Durham due to personal problems.

Chris Gayle hammered Hampshire to all parts in the reverse fixture but Somerset will be without the West Indian at the Ageas Bowl

Wheater has been moved up to number three in recent weeks, with Jimmy Adams dropping out the side, and has scored two fifties in his last three T20 innings after finding it tough at the start of the campaign.

Matthew Maynard wants Somerset to finish their campaign with a bang after four defeats in their last four games.

A dismal run, during which the county have seen their hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals disappear, has left them in eighth place with only four wins from their 11 completed games to date.

Somerset’s director of cricket has called on his squad to dig deep and prove their worth at Southampton.

“There is no doubt that we have underperformed,” said Maynard.

“Like many sides, we had high hopes at the start of the season. However, it’s been a disappointing campaign for us and recent results mean that we no longer have any chance of reaching the last eight.

“That said, with two games left, we’ve got an opportunity to finish on a high. We also need to build our confidence ahead of the Royal London One-Day Cup which starts at the weekend.”

Match facts

  • Peter Trego has hit 317 runs in 10 T20 innings against Hampshire at an average of 39.6, including four scores of 50+.
  • After a run of four completed games without a win (three defeats, one tie), Somerset have won their last three T20 games against Hampshire.
  • These sides competed in the 2010 T20 final at the Ageas Bowl, Hampshire delighting the home crowd by winning on fewer wickets lost.
  • Nine of the last 11 T20 games at the Ageas Bowl have been won by the side batting first.
  • Somerset have batted second in all five away T20 games this season, winning three and losing two.

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