Experience counts for Dimi

  • Last Updated: August 16 2013, 17:05 BST

Retiring Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas believes a well-oiled formula for success can lead his side to a third Friends Life t20 title in four years.

Dimitri Mascarenhas (c): Hopes to bow out on a winning note
Dimitri Mascarenhas (c): Hopes to bow out on a winning note

Hampshire have established themselves as the dominant Twenty20 force in recent years - reaching the past four finals days - and are favourites to retain their crown at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The Royals have lost just once en route to the last four and while Mascarenhas knows past form means little come finals day, he believes their tried-and-tested strategy for success, built up over the past four years, can give his side the edge.

"We have a formula for the way we do things and we haven't gone away, or needed to go away, from that," he said.

"Everyone knows their exact role in the team. They know when are going to be bowling so they can assess the situation before they come on and know what they need to do because they have done it many times before at that stage of the innings.

"It's the same with the batsmen and even in the field if a bloke knows he's in the wrong spot from experience then he'll just move himself.

"That helps me as captain as well to have that structure. As you know there's plenty going on in Twenty20 cricket for a captain to think about. It's full-on, with the crowd noise thrown in too, so that helps your decision-making."

Finals day will be Mascarenhas' last before he retires at the end of the season after 18 years and five trophies at the Ageas Bowl.

A recurring Achilles problem forced the popular 35-year-old, who made 34 limited overs appearances for England, to set his exit date.

And while he will be missed on the south coast he refused to buy into talk his team-mates will be motivated solely by a desire to help him lift one more trophy before retirement.

"Personally there will be no more motivation to win this one than any other trophy before," he said.

"It's just about the team. To play with these blokes has been a privilege and apart from me and maybe (Neil) McKenzie they have at least another four years together."

Hampshire will meet Surrey in the second semi-final after fellow South Group rivals Essex play Northamptonshire.

Mascarenhas believes the Edgbaston wicket should suit his side, but will be a keen observer on how it plays in the first match.

"In my time Edgbaston is either flat or it is slow and offers some turn," he said.

"We'd be happy with either. The Ageas Bowl has been very flat this year and we've lost just once and if the pitch is slow that brings our two spinners (leading wicket-takers Danny Briggs and Liam Dawson) into it. We'll watch the first game to find out how it plays."

While Hampshire have set the benchmark in recent years their finals day rivals have flattered to deceive.

Surrey, who will be without suspended skipper Gareth Batty, won the inaugural title but had not got out of their group in the six years previous to this campaign.

Essex scraped through to the quarter-finals with the worst win-loss record but Northamptonshire have been the most unlikely story.

The Steelbacks had won just three of their past 27 Twenty20 before this season and reached finals day just once.

Some winter soul-searching has helped to turn matters around in all formats with their promotion bid in the LV= County Championship firmly on track.

"We were fed up with losing," skipper Alex Wakeley said. "There were some embarrassing times for me as a captain and the players.

"We sat down at the end of last season and said we had had enough. We talked through everything we had done well and everything we had done badly and put a plan into action to get us better for this season.

"There was a lot of hard work put in during the winter."

The arrival of little-known Pakistani seamer Muhammad Azharullah - who leads the competition with 24 wickets - has been a significant part in establishing Northamptonshire as the tournament's surprise team.

"People do underestimate us. We have got to the finals day without anyone really noticing us," Wakeley said.

"The same goes for Azharullah. He is a bit of an unknown but he does sum up what we are all about.

"He works hard. He has been a fantastic find for us."

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