James Vince breathed a sigh of relief as Hampshire edged a nail-biter with Gloucestershire in their latest Natwest T20 Blast clash.
After last week’s one-run defeat at Somerset, the match came down to the wire once again, with Hampshire bowler Kyle Abbott knowing that anything other than a six would be enough for victory.
It should have been far easier for the home side, though, as they posted 180 for six and we were well in control of the game as the Gloucestershire reply stuttered.
But former Hampshire man Benny Howell (50) nearly dragged his side to victory with a late blitz as Vince’s bowlers were unusually wayward in the closing stages.
Vince, however, believes it was a good test for his side – even if it was tighter than he would have wished for.
The Hampshire skipper said: ‘It’s sometimes good to get a test like that.
‘It’s a little nudge up the backside for the next time we are in that position and hopefully we will execute our plans slightly better.
‘I’m just delighted to get the win.
‘It was the flip side to the game at Taunton last week.
‘You scratch your head towards the end wondering what you can do.
‘Normally we have got guys who bowl well at the end of an innings but they are not going to be able to execute that every time.
‘Those guys have done well for us all season and for the past few seasons.
‘They will accept that they didn’t get it right this time but we still got the win and that’s what matters.’
While Owais Shah was not selected for the game, Vince hit a blistering 39 from just 20 balls and looked like he was in the mood to win the game single-handedly,
But after the innings looked like it would go beyond 200 at one stage, Hampshire had to settle for 180.
And while Gloucestershire were always behind in their chase, they made a late surge to take it to the last ball of the match.
Vince said: ‘They started well and we didn’t take early wickets, but we pegged them back.
‘We were looking to get on top of them, but fair play to Benny Howell, he played a good innings.
‘He played really well. We didn’t make it overly hard for him at times but you’ve still got to put them away and he hit the ball cleanly.
‘In that last over, after two shots go for four and an inside edge for a boundary, you start thinking the worst.
‘Credit to Kyle Abbott, he held his nerve at the end.
‘It’s a good win but I think we can improve on that performance.
‘It wasn’t our best performance but we’ll take the two points.’
The victory leaves Hampshire well-placed to qualify from the south division ahead of two road trips to Glamorgan on Wednesday and Surrey next Friday.
Vince said: ‘We’ve got two tough trips coming up. It would be nice to get back-to-back wins and if we can finish in the top two of the group, we would definitely take that.’