By Alun Rhys Chivers
Colin Ingram revealed Glamorgan had been driven by a fierce determination to make amends for last season as they reached the Nat West T20 Blast Finals Day.
Ingram struck an unbeaten 70 from 43 balls and Craig Meschede took three wickets for 17 as Glamorgan booked their place on Wednesday night with a comprehensive nine wicket victory over Leicestershire in Cardiff.
Ingram said: “We had to right the wrong from last year. To hear the crowd cheering and chanting, we can get excited about Finals Day now.
“We’ve played consistent cricket and our bases are covered. We’ll have to pitch up on the day and put on a show.
“We’ve been playing great cricket the last couple of weeks and there was a good feeling in the dressing room today. We got off to a pretty quick start and for the bowlers to respond the way they did and really change the pace of the game and attack the wickets, for me that’s what set up the win.
“Leicestershire have had a great tournament, especially the top four and have done some damage with the bat so it was great to get amongst the wickets and we gained momentum. Special mention to Craig [Meschede]. He bowled an incredible spell there which turned the game on its head.
“I really enjoy batting with Jacques [Rudolph], he’s a really positive influence on me and batting together again tonight was great. It was nice to play freely. Over the last few weeks, I haven’t got as many as I would have liked so it was nice to have a let-off early on and get on with it.
Leicestershire won the toss and elected to bat first. The players emerged shortly before the scheduled start time of 6.30pm for a minute’s applause and wearing black armbands in memory of much-loved Glamorgan stalwart Don Shepherd, who sadly passed away shortly after his 90th birthday last week.
When play got underway, Leicestershire got off to a strong start against Marchant de Lange, Luke Ronchi despatching the bowler for four before Cameron Delport gave Michael Hogan similar treatment with two fours in the second over as the Foxes reached 21-0.
However, Glamorgan got the much needed breakthrough in the third over when Cameron Delport was bowled by de Lange for 10. Ronchi continued in aggressive fashion against Hogan with a driven boundary before former Glamorgan batsman Mark Cosgrove joined the party with a driven four of his own. Ronchi then launched a six over the bowlers head as the score reached 44-1 in four overs.
It wasn’t long, though, before Graham Wagg got his man, bowling Ronchi for 28 in the fifth over at 49-2. Colin Ackermann struck off-spinner Andrew Salter for a six on the leg-side as the visitors reached 57-2 after the powerplay. But he was soon on his way as he pulled Craig Meschede to Aneurin Donald in the seventh over.
As Leicestershire looked to regroup, Glamorgan kept the pressure on, and it proved to much for Cosgrove who was bowled by Meschede in the ninth over as his side slumped to 81-4 at the halfway stage.
An impressive throw from Kiran Carlson ran out Aadil Ali in the 12th over as the visitors were in deep trouble at 87-5. A sixth wicket fell inside 13 overs as Ned Eckersley sliced to Hogan at short third man off Meschede, who finished with three wickets for 17 in his four overs.
The Foxes’ woes continued into the 14th over as Tom Wells gave leg-spinner Colin Ingram a simple return catch to reduce his team to 94-7 before Marchant de Lange dismissed Matt Pillans in bizarre fashion, as the ball rolled back onto his stumps to leave his team 98-8. There was further misery to come as captain Clint McKay went for the big heave into the off-side but only found Aneurin Donald in the covers off Hogan as the visitors lost their penultimate wicket on 102.
The final wicket pair of Gavin Griffiths and Callum Parkinson contributed 21 before Griffiths was bowled by Graham Wagg to end the innings on 123 in 19.2 overs.
Glamorgan, chasing 124, got off to a poor start, losing Aneurin Donald as he drove Clint McKay to Colin Ackermann at mid-off in the first over. It was left to the South African pair of Jacques Rudolph and Colin Ingram to start the Glamorgan recovery, and the latter swept Aadil Ali for four before lauching him over the in-field through the covers for another boundary.
Gavin Griffiths came into the attack and was soon pulled for six by Ingram in the fifth over, before he sliced Matt Pillans for four in the final over of the powerplay as Glamorgan reached 37-1. The very
next ball, Ingram should have gone, only to be dropped by McKay at short third man off Pillans. He showed his gratitude by duly despatching the bowler for a big six.
Skipper Rudolph followed up with three fours of his own off Griffiths in the ninth over, showing his attacking ability on all sides of the ground.
The aggression continued against McKay as Rudolph struck him for four through the covers as Glamorgan reached 78-1 at the halfway stage, requiring just 46 to win. Ingram, approaching his half-century, hooked Pillans for six in the 11th over.
Rudolph struck off-spinner Colin Ackermann through the covers for four in the 12th over, reducing the target to 28 from the remaining eight overs. Ingram brought up his half-century in the following over, and finished off in style with two sixes and two fours to reach 70 not out.