GiveMeSport at the Ageas Bowl. A sure but steady 73 from Michael Carberry set-up a 22-run for Hampshire against the opener’s former county, Kent, as the top two teams in the South Group met at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday evening.
England’s Ashes opener was out-scored by Rob Key, but his contribution paved the way for Hampshire to extend their lead at the summit of the region’s Natwest T20 Blast standings.
It was the Royals who batted first, having won the toss, but it wasn’t long before they lost their opening wicket of the night. Captain, James Vince, was dismissed for just five in the second over.
Adam Ball took a tidy catch at mid-wicket to provide Doug Bollinger with his first wicket of the game.
But that brought Jimmy Adams – and an array of boundary hitting – to the crease. Hampshire’s four-day captain started to raise the run-rate as the hosts looked to post a competitive total.
Combined with Carberry, the two left-handers took the home side through the remaining powerplay overs but then kicked on after the culmination of the sixth over.
Adams was the more prominent scorer as the England opener played more of a supporting role. But when Adams (47) was undone by the off-spin Adam Riley, Carberry started batting more assertively.
Australian superstar, Glenn Maxwell, only had a brief cameo – which included one six – before he was leaving the field after adding seven from four balls.
Now it was time for Carberry to take centre stage, and the former Kent batsman started to pile on the runs, hitting eight fours and two sixes during his 58-ball innings.
Owais Shah was more sluggish for his 11 before Bollinger dismissed him, but runs were now streaming from the other end.
Carberry also outstayed Sean Ervine (1) before the 33-year-old became the third victim of Bollinger. The Australian finished with figures of 3-19.
Hampshire finished their innings with a flurry, Chris Wood (12) hit some boundaries from the final deliveries to take the Royals to 171-7 from their allotted overs.
In reply, Kent were fairly sluggish throughout the powerplay, but Key signalled his intent from the beginning with some big hitting.
The visiting skipper was joined at the crease by Daniel Bell-Drummond, who took 19 balls for his eventual 12 – Danny Briggs claimed the breakthrough wicket in the sixth over.
That invited Sam Northeast to the crease, who didn’t look like he was taking part in a run chase initially. However, by the time he departed the field, he had contributed a very nifty 35.
Key was a constant, and continued to chip away at the victory target, but the loss of three wickets within 10 balls was to prove a knockout blow to the Spitfires’ batting order.
Will Smith firstly accounted for Northeast, before Briggs claimed another two scalps in the respective forms of Darren Stevens and Sam Billings.
The dismissal of danger man, Stevens – who was dropped on his first ball and then bowled the next – took the momentum away from Kent.
In the closing overs, a successful run chase was becoming more and more unlikely.
Great death bowling from Chris Wood and Kyle Abbott stifled any lasting hopes that the visitors had, as Hampshire’s sealed an eventual victory margin of 22 runs with five balls to spare.
Key ended the game 89* - the 35-year-old is still searching for his maiden century in T20 cricket.
In addition, he oversaw his side’s first loss in the format in 2014, yet both teams remain in the play-off positions of the Southern Group.
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