Coach keeps faith after loss

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Dale Benkenstein remains optimistic that Hampshire can recover from their poor start to the Royal London One-Day Cup to qualify for the latter stages after their latest defeat.

Hampshire went down to a six-wicket loss to Leicestershire in a rain-affected game at the Ageas Bowl as the visitors claimed the win with four balls to spare.

Sean Terry (63) top-scored in Hampshire’s 275 for nine from their 50 overs.

But a torrential downpour at the end of their innings saw Leicestershire set a reduced target of 186 from 25 overs.

Niall O’Brien then hit a fabulous 105 not out from just 72 balls as he blasted five fours and seven sixes to steer his side home and consign Benkenstein’s side to a third defeat in four 50-over outings.

But even though it looks a long way off, Benkenstein insists he has not yet written off hopes of a Lord’s final.

The Hampshire coach said: ‘I think we‘ve got a lot of work to do but I look at the teams we are playing and we can win four out of four, if we are on our game.

‘It’s going to be a tough ask.

‘But we are still bothered about this competition and I think we have got a team that can win this.’

Hampshire’s innings got off to a fine start as Michael Carberry raced to 61, but the wickets then fell regularly to leave the home side struggling at 139 for five.

But Terry, batting at number seven, played a mature knock to drag his side up to respectability with some useful support from Chris Wood (27).

Danny Briggs (18 not out) and James Tomlinson (11 not out) then ensured the home side batted their full 50 overs with a handy last-wicket stand.

In reply, O’Brien starred as Hampshire looked dead and buried midway through the shortened run-chase.

But they fought back well, only for O’Brien to blast a four and a mighty six from the second ball of Tomlinson’s final over to bring up his century and secure the win in style.

Benkenstein said: ‘I’m always disappointed when we lose but I think we were a little bit hard done by.

‘The conditions really suited our attack on what we had to bat on in the afternoon and then the rain nullified that.

‘The two new balls and a shortened game took the skill of spin out of it.

‘I thought we did really well to get 275 and there was some really positive stuff.

‘Sean Terry did well, the lower order came to the party and we started well.

‘We fought really hard and when they needed 10 to win from the last over, I thought we had a chance.

‘But a really good knock from O’Brien was the difference between the two teams. It was a match-winning innings from him.

‘Had the game been a full 50-over game, it would have proven a tough target to get.

‘The ball would have really spun and that would have played into our hands.’