Stand-in skipper guides Royals home

Danny Briggs celebrates. Pic: Robin Jones
Danny Briggs celebrates. Pic: Robin Jones
Suzie Bates

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Neil McKenzie played a stand-in captain’s knock to guide Hampshire to a winning start in the defence of their Friends Life t20 crown.

The South African hit an unbeaten 37 to steer the Royals to a five-wicket success over Surrey with four balls to spare – a cruise in t20 terms.

With Surrey shorn of the injured former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, their batting line-up failed to fire as they posted a below-par 139 for six from their 20 overs.

That never looked like testing a Hampshire side who know how to win games of t20 cricket, having lifted the title twice in the past three attempts.

Michael Carberry (60) was in blistering form with a 45-ball knock.

He fired eight fours and one six to lay the foundations.

But as wickets fell around him, McKenzie was his usual assured self, hitting the gaps and finding the boundary when it was required.

Having won the toss and deciding to bat, Surrey made a solid start to their innings.

They were boosted by five wides off the first delivery from Liam Dawson.

But they were pegged back by the Royals with some sharp fielding and some impressive bowling.

David Griffiths – who had made just one domestic t20 appearance in five years – got the nod to replace the injured Dimi Mascarenhas and rose to the challenge impressively with two wickets for 23.

But after making the breakthrough to dismiss Jason Roy (11), Surrey appeared to be on course for a decent total until Danny Briggs (two for 20) entered the fray.

The slow left-armer was given special dispensation by England after missing out on selection for their T20 clash with New Zealand.

He struck twice in the same over to account for Vikram Solanki (15) and Rory Burns (27).

And when former Hampshire man Glenn Maxwell (15) top-edged into the safe hands of McKenzie, Surrey looked forlorn.

Their total of 139 for six appeared to be at least 20 or so runs short.

And so it proved as Hampshire could pace themselves home.

Jimmy Adams (17) played his part until he was run out but it was McKenzie who played the anchor role, before Adam Wheater struck the winning boundary.