Hampshire hold their nerve at Hove

Yasir Arafat. Picture: Neil Marshall
Yasir Arafat. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Hampshire held their nerve in a pulsating four-run win over Sussex at Hove to keep their Natwest Blast T20 hopes alive.

In an incredible game, the visitors posted 204 for three with James Vince cracking an unbeaten 90 and they looked on course to stroll to victory.

But the Sharks had other ideas as Chris Nash (88) led the fightback and Hampshire were then left hanging on attempting to defend just nine runs in the final over.

Thankfully for Hampshire, former Sussex man Yasir Arafat came up with the goods in a courageous last over to seal the victory.

Hampshire made a brisk start with Vince finding the boundary and shrugging off the loss of Michael Carberry (14) to share a fabulous 93-run partnership with Adam Wheater (51) in just nine overs.

Vince chalked up his half-century in 38 balls and then got a stroke of luck when he was dropped.

But he made the most of his let-off to steer his side to a big total when they most needed it.

Wheater brought up his 50 in just 26 balls but was then out to the next delivery.

However, Owais Shah (40) showed there is more to finding the boundary than sheer power with some classy strokes and clever glances.

It proved that it was Vince’s night when even after landing in a heap attempting a ramp shot, he still got up for two runs

His 90 not out from 62 balls included 11 fours and one six before Shah was out off the final ball of the innings.

Sussex, however, showed they were well up for the task as they made a pacy start to their innings, racing to 40 without loss in just three overs.

Nash and Luke Wright (42) hammered everything to the boundary as Hampshire’s search for a breakthrough became increasingly desperate to stem the flow of runs.

Arafat removed Wright’s off stump to breathe life back into his side’s hopes and Jackson Bird then took a fine running catch to dismiss Matt Machan (one) as Mason Crane struck.

But Nash remained in total control, while former Hampshire overseas recruit George Bailey (33) added some extra impetus at the other end.

With five overs to go, Sussex looked big favourites needing 54 to win.

But Chris Wood struck a vital double blow as he picked up the wickets of both Nash and Bailey thanks to Joe Gatting catches at long-on to swing the game back in his side’s favour.

Wood (three for 40) struck again in the penultimate over but Craig Cachopa then responded with successive sixes.

It meant Arafat had nine runs to play with in the final over and when Will Beer (two) was run out, Sussex needed five to win from the final delivery or a four for the tie.

But when Ollie Robinson missed an attempted scoop, Hampshire had their precious win.