Hampshire had no answer to Chris Gayle’s brutal bombardment as they went down to defeat by eight wickets at Somerset in their latest Natwest T20 Blast clash.
The West Indies superstar, who smashed a remarkable 151 not out in his last outing against Kent, thumped an unbeaten 85 from 49 balls with eight sixes and four fours to lead his side to a comprehensive victory with nine balls to spare.
It took his tally to 328 runs from three innings since his arrival at Taunton and with Gayle in this kind of form, Hampshire’s total of 167 for three never looked like being enough.
But they didn’t do themselves any favours in the field, dropping vital catches that would have seen the end of Gayle and Peter Trego (51).
Will Smith gave the match-winning Gayle an extra life when he was on 36, while Trego was put down by Owais Shah when he had scored just six.
Director of cricket, Giles White, said: ‘The crowd came to see Gayle and were royally entertained by a fantastic innings.
‘From our point of view, we felt we were 15 runs short because Somerset bowled particularly well and then we failed to take our chances in the field, dropping both Trego and Gayle at vital times.’
James Vince had cracked an unbeaten 64 off 53 balls to help Hampshire to their modest total after winning the toss with Sean Ervine contributing 30 at the death.
But the innings featured just two sixes on one of the smaller grounds on the county circuit.
By the end of the six overs of power play, the visitors were 51 for one, having just lost Michael Carberry (20) to a well-judged catch by James Hildreth on the square-leg boundary off Sohail Tanvir.
Vince, who survived a stumping chance on 34, was never able to totally cut loose, but reached his half-century off 44 balls, with six fours, while Ervine provided some necessary late acceleration with a 17-ball cameo.
Jim Allenby was the pick of the Somerset bowlers, surprisingly bowling only three overs for 11 runs and the wicket of Shah (16), caught at mid-wicket with the total on 113.
By then Hampshire had also lost Jimmy Adams (23), who had hit four fours and looked in good nick.
But the total looked at least 20 runs short, especially considering Somerset had hit 224 in their last home match – and still lost by three runs.
The home side’s reply got off to a poor start when Marcus Trescothick, having faced five dot balls in the second over from Fidel Edwards, top-edged the sixth to third-man and departed for a single with the score on six.
But Gayle got the scoreboard moving with two sixes and a four off Chris Wood.
Trego survived his let-off and was soon making Hampshire pay with sixes off Danny Briggs and Smith.
The powerful all-rounder outscored Gayle to move to his half-century off 32 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, before top-edging a catch to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater off Briggs
Gayle reached a 36-ball half-century and the result was never in doubt from that point.
He ended the match with yet another maximum, punching the air in delight at another seemingly effortless display.