Manchester Originals 151 for 5 (Evans 72) beat London Spirit 150 for 7 (McDermott 59, Walter 3-29) by five wickets
Originals will now hot-foot it up the M3 to face Trent Rockets at Lord’s at 6:30pm on Saturday.
McDermott, who played for Hampshire in the Blast, was imperious from ball two, which he thrashed over the square boundary before bashing through cover next ball.
Crawley was bowled by Walter for 36 from 23 balls, to be replaced by Dan Lawrence, but McDermott kicked into the next gear as he guided a boundary through deep third to bring up a 33-ball fifty – his 59 one shy of his best for his county on this ground.
Just as an enormous total was brewing, the innings spluttered between balls 74 and 85, as Originals twice claimed two wickets in two balls.
Bopara starred in the final 15 balls, with a pair of sixes – the first swung square, the second a skier over long-on – to smash 34 off 16 balls. Despite Liam Dawson slapping to extra cover, Spirit reached 150 for seven.
All eyes were on how Spirit’s Hampshire-flavoured attack would defend on their county ground. Between Chris Wood, Crane, Dawson and Ellis, they have played 165 T20/Hundred games at the Ageas Bowl – taking 163 wickets in the process.
Evans, who has his own T20 history on the ground with two half-centuries, didn’t care for ‘home’ advantage. He’d already struck four of his first eight balls to the boundary before slog-sweeping sweetly into the stands.
Another six over long-on, followed by a scampered two, took him to a 19-ball fifty – his first of the tournament.
Salt had largely done his best to stay out of Evans’ way, but took centre stage when he took Crane downtown, only for Evans to hit back with a six of his own off Dawson.
The 101-run opening stand ended with ball 50 when Dawson had Salt caught-and-bowled, and two balls later, Evans swept Crane to deep square leg. In the following set, Walter drove firmly to cover off Ellis.
Ellis then yorked Wayne Madsen, after a period of squeeze, and Crane induced Tristan Stubbs into a squirt to point, to take the equation to 18 off 20 balls.
But Turner and Lammonby made sure they booked their place in the showpiece without any more worries.