Hampshire’s recent NatWest T20 Blast resurgence came to an end with a 43-run defeat to Middlesex at the Ageas Bowl.
The visitors, whose victory clinched their place in the quarter-finals, were too good for the home side, who were looking for a third successive south group win.
After Hampshire had some early success in the Middlesex innings, a 114-run fourth-wicket partnership between former Ageas Bowl batsman George Bailey (76) and John Simpson (54) put the visitors in charge.
Chasing 181 for six, Hampshire were soon on the back foot and their chances of victory quickly died.
Middlesex opted to bat first after winning the toss and looked like carrying on from the previous evening when they chased down 200 to beat Surrey.
They were helped by some sloppy fielding in the first over when Lewis McManus conceded five leg byes with a wild throw at the stumps.
Some good Hampshire bowling, however, pegged the visitors back to 40 for three at the end of the powerplay.
Ryan McLaren (two for 35) made the breakthrough in the fourth over with a good low catch off his own bowling to get rid of Dawid Malan.
In the next over, Gavin Griffiths (one for 28) took the huge scalp of England twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan – caught by Liam Dawson at wide mid-on.
Youngster Brad Wheal (three for 43) showed his increasing confidence as he clean bowled Paul Stirling (18) after the Middlesex opener had crashed him for a huge six the previous ball.
Shahid Afridi and Liam Dawson bowled well to keep the pressure on but, crucially, Middlesex kept wickets in hand and accelerated towards the end.
Bailey and Simpson were instrumental in hoisting their side to 181 for six.
Hampshire struggled to get any impetus in their reply and lost both their openers in the fourth over. Adam Wheater skied the ball to Malan at mid-on and three balls later Tom Alsop presented an easy catch for Morgan at cover.
At the end of the powerplay, the home side were 28 for two – well behind what was needed.
Sean Ervine and Liam Dawson (16) attempted to repair the damage with some positive batting in a stand of 44 in five overs.
But the loss of Dawson, caught at extra cover in the 10th over, was a big blow.
Afridi soon followed before Ervine was bowled for 36.
McLaren (23) produced a late cameo but Hampshire collapsed badly and were all out for 138 in the final over.