Hampshire suffered their first defeat of this year’s Natwest T20 Blast as they went down by five wickets in an extraordinary Kent fightback at the Ageas Bowl.
After posting a healthy 172 for six from their 20 overs, Hampshire looked well on course to defend it with ease and make it two wins out of two as they reduced the Spitfires to 70 for five midway through their chase.
But Sam Northeast (60 not out) and Alex Blake (71 not out) unleashed a superb assault to steer their side home with four balls to spare.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Hampshire innings got off to a flying start with Michael Carberry (20) helping himself to two sixes and a four in the opening over of the match.
The powerful left-hander looked in peak form and alongside James Vince (66), the duo plundered 28 runs from the first two overs before Carberry holed out at deep square leg to end his short but spectacular knock.
Vince, however, was in equally dominant mood with 10 fours and two glorious sixes in his 43-ball stay as he built the platform for the innings.
Jimmy Adams (one) was bowled by Adam Riley but Owais Shah (26) steadied the ship alongside Vince in a 62-run stand before the skipper perished going for another maximum.
Sean Ervine (two) was one of two victims for former Hampshire man David Griffiths but Adam Wheater (36) played a useful knock to get the score up to just one short of last week’s winning total.
Will Smith got Hampshire off to the perfect start as he took a catch from his own bowling in the first over.
Danny Briggs struck with his first ball to dismiss Joe Denly (26), thanks to a smart catch from Adams at short extra cover to put the brakes on Kent.
A great bit of work from Wheater saw Sam Billings run out and then the glovesman excelled himself again with a sharp stumping to remove Darren Stevens, one of two wickets in the over for the excellent Smith (three for 24).
But Northeast (60 not out) was the key man for Kent and when Blake (71 not out) joined him to provide some big-hitting support, the visitors staged a late surge.
The partnership left them needing 43 from 24 balls and that was reduced even further with some impressive power-hitting – particularly from Blake who clattered six sixes and three fours from just 30 balls.
When Carberry dropped a tough chance on the boundary that would have seen the end of Blake in the 18th over, Kent looked favourites when they required 19 runs from the final two overs.
An expensive Chris Wood penultimate over meant Kent needed just five runs from the final six balls to take the victory and they duly obliged as the rampant Blake blasted another maximum to condemn Hampshire to defeat.