Hampshire face do-or-die Sussex trip

Dale Benkenstein. Picture: Sarah Standing (150676-3682)
Dale Benkenstein. Picture: Sarah Standing (150676-3682)
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Dale Benkenstein has backed his Hampshire players to rise to their do-or-die Natwest T20 Blast mission.

Hampshire go into tonight’s trip to Sussex knowing they must win their remaining two games to guarantee their progress to the quarter-finals.

A home clash against Somerset next Friday wraps up their south group fixtures.

If they slip up in either match, it will be the first time since 2008 they have failed to make it through the group phase.

But the Hampshire first-team coach expects his team to cope with the pressure as they battle for a place in the last eight of the competition.

Benkenstein said: ‘We’ve left ourselves a lot to do but it’s very simple – if you don’t play well enough, you don’t deserve to be there.

‘It’s down to knockout stuff but these guys are used to that and they have shown they are pretty good at it in recent years.

‘I’m always confident. When we play well, we have shown we can beat anybody.

‘Ideally, it’s not the position we would want to be in where we have to win our last two games.

‘But it’s better to be in this position rather than teams which have got no chance at all.

‘It’s still in our hands and if we win, next Friday against Somerset then becomes a massive game.’

Hampshire left themselves no further room for error after defeat at Gloucestershire earlier this week.

But Benkenstein is hopeful that the venue of Hampshire’s only Championship victory of the season so far will act as a catalyst to get the best out of his troops.

He said: ‘We went to Hove and won in the Championship game and that can help.

‘It was a poor pitch and a small ground against Gloucestershire so you go there thinking it will be a big score.

‘To get 116 was definitely short, but 140 probably would have won us the game.

‘Then we bowled their whole innings in drizzle and it took out the option of bowling spin so a few things didn’t go our way.

‘If we had won that, it would have given us a bit of breathing space but we no longer have that option.

‘It’s been an ongoing battle all season to play consistently good cricket – especially in the four-day stuff. We’ve been more consistent in the t20 but not consistent enough.

‘That’s why we are where we are.’

While the players know the importance of the game, Benkenstein is attempting to keep things on an even keel.

He said: ‘Everyone knows the situation – absolutely.

‘It all comes down to what happens on the day and how well we play.

‘But I try to keep it normal. I think it benefits everyone to do that.’