Leicestershire 126 for 4 (Mulder 55*, Handscomb 49*) beat Gloucestershire 125 (Mulder 3-38, Scriven 3-19) by six wickets
The Foxes will meet Hampshire – runners-up to winners Leicestershire in Group A – in the final at Trent Bridge on September 16.
Aussie Handscomb is due to fly home tomorrow ahead of a domestic season captaining Victoria, although Leicestershire will no doubt try to persuade him to return for the final.
With the sky overcast and rain around, it had looked a good toss to win, more so when Lewis Hill’s reward for opting to bowl first was three wickets in the opening five overs. Gloucestershire set out to attack the new ball and nine boundaries in the opening powerplay helped them put 53 runs on the board, yet not at a cost they would have wanted.
Miles Hammond, a match-winning centurion against Lancashire in the quarter-finals, fell for a duck this time, driving Chris Wright straight to extra cover. Mulder took two in three balls in the next over. James Bracey, already with four boundaries to his name, edged to slip looking for a fifth, while Ireland international Harry Tector was leg before second ball.
Gloucestershire now tempered their approach, yet with scarcely better results. Josh Hull undid Ollie Price as some extra bounce induced a horrible miscue to mid-on before Matt Salisbury uprooted Jack Taylor’s middle and leg stumps, leaving Gloucestershire in peril at 63 for five with most of their principle run threats back in the hut.
Van Buuren remained, but after he and Tom Price added 36 with little sense of security for the sixth wicket, the latter holed out to deep square leg off Scriven, who followed up by bowling Anwar Ali. At 103 for seven just past halfway, Gloucestershire had work to do to cobble together a competitive total.
Yet Scriven struck again to have Tom Smith leg before to one that kept a touch low and Wright finally ended Van Buuren’s vigil, the South African-born right-hander caught behind off a top edge as he went to cut, the innings ending four balls later when Paul van Meekeren attempted a scoop against Mulder and looped a catch to third man, hardly the smartest move in the circumstances.
Rain between the innings made conditions trickier still if anything, with both Tom Price and left-armer David Payne finding extravagant movement – and sharing three wickets as the Foxes slumped to 13 for three in just 22 balls.
All three – Sol Budinger, Rishi Patel and skipper Hill – were caught at second slip by Ollie Price, who grabbed the left-handed Budinger comfortably to his left, Patel superbly above his head as the batter drove hard, and Hill diving to his right.
The tension among home supporters cranked up a little more when Anwar Ali entered the attack to trap Colin Ackermann in front with one that kept low but from 33 for four, with the balls beginning to lose some of their venom, Handscomb and Mulder brought their experience and quality to bear in their winning partnership.
They trod carefully at first but Mulder in particular had the intent to finish the job quickly, ultimately crashing four boundaries in the same over to complete a 37-ball half-century and bring the requirement shown sharply to just a dozen runs with 26 overs to spare, allowing them to ease home in the 29th over.
As Leicestershire looked ahead to their first final since they were beaten by Kent in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy decider at Lord’s in 2001, it was a sorry exit for Gloucestershire after a tournament that saw them score fewer than 250 on only four occasions, which featured eight individual hundreds and a mammoth team score of 454 for three against Somerset – the second highest List A total in English domestic history.