By Matt Somerford
Captain James Taylor and his Notts Outlaws have unfinished business to tidy up when they host Hampshire in their NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final on Sunday.
The Outlaws have developed an unwanted reputation for falling at the last hurdle before finals day in recent years.
Trent Bridge has hosted a last-eight clash in each of the previous three seasons. On each occasion the Outlaws lost.
“We’ve got a few things to put right,” Taylor told ecb.co.uk.
“Obviously our record in the quarter-finals hasn’t been great in the past few years and fingers crossed we can put things right.”
Two years ago it was Hampshire that ended the Outlaws’ campaign, in a last-ball thriller, as they chased down 178 for seven on the back of Neil McKenzie’s unbeaten 79 from 49 balls.
“In these games we seem to get on the wrong end of those outstanding individual performances,” Taylor added.
“It’s one of those things – they have taken the game away when we haven’t quite been at our best.
“There’s not one individual thing to say that’s the reason why we’ve lost. It’s just been one of those things.”
Taylor has reason to believe things will be different this time around.
Notts are unbeaten in their past nine games in all competitions, during which time they have discovered a handy knack of finding ways to win.
That was perfectly illustrated in front of the Sky Sports cameras in their final Blast group game when they chased down Yorkshire’s 200 for five – with four balls to spare – to send the Vikings crashing out.
Perhaps just as impressive was an unbeaten 93-run eighth-wicket stand between Steven Mullaney and Ajmal Shahzad to get Notts home in their Royal London One-Day Cup trip to Glamorgan last Wednesday.
“Great teams always find a way to win when they are up against it and we’ve definitely been up against it in the past couple of games,” Taylor said.
“We’ve found a way to get back into the game and then win the game. Long may that continue.
“I’m so lucky to have such talented individuals and so many match-winners within my side.
“We’re in outstanding form not only in T20 cricket but in all formats.”
While Taylor will be telling his team-mates not just to savour their good form, but to hold onto it tight, he knows Hampshire possess the type of game changers that have wrecked their past campaigns.
“They are an extremely dangerous side,” he said.
“They are a talented bunch of lads and they’ve got international players running right through their team and some young guys who know one-day cricket really well.
“They have been the outstanding team in the last three or four years in both the 50-over and Twenty20 comeptition. They know how to win, as do we though.
“We have a great team and the roll that we are on at the moment is unbelievable. Hopefully we can keep up that momentum.”
Hampshire have some doubt over two of their star names after Michael Carberry and Glenn Maxwell both missed their one-day cup defeat to Gloucestershire on Thursday.
Maxwell is due to play his final Hampshire game of the summer at Trent Bridge – before returning to Australia ahead of their limited overs series in Zimbabwe.
The 25-year-old, who helped Surrey to last year’s final, has not been able to replicate his heavy scoring from the Indian Premier League since arriving on the south coast for the Blast.
He did, however, plunder 146 from 96 balls in a one-day cup win over Lancashire in midweek and – after he took three wickets in that quarter-final success two years ago – Notts might fear he is primed to hurt them again.
“It will be a nice touch if we can get him early,” Taylor said.
“He’s an outstanding talent and he’s shown that in international cricket and in the IPL.”
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