Modest Kabir helps Royals avoid a potential giant-killing

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Kabir Ali played down his role as Hampshire avoided a potential banana skin in Scotland yesterday.

The Royals were struggling to post an imposing total when the former England all-rounder strode to the crease in the Clydesdale Bank 40 group B encounter in Glasgow.

Alongside Danny Briggs, he added a crucial 32 to propel the visitors beyond 200 and ultimately break the Saltires’ resolve.

Hampshire went on to record an 89-run success but Ali modestly labelled his 36-ball innings – which included one towering straight six – lucky.

Instead, he chose to laud the efforts of Michael Carberry – insisting it was the England Lions batsman’s composed 76 which proved crucial to maintaining the Royals’ unbeaten start to the limited-over competition.

‘Carbs batted nicely and the bowlers bowled beautifully as a unit,’ he said.

‘Everything came together in the end for us.

‘I think it was quite a tricky stage in the middle there – when their spinners came on.

‘Our spinners showed later on, as well, that if you bowl good lines and good areas it was quite difficult to play.

‘Carbs batted beautifully and led the side really well with the bat, though.

‘He has got a great head. He can attack, he can play a sensible role and he can rotate the strike whenever he wants.

‘You need a player like him to be able to set a good total.

‘Briggsy and I just came in at the end and smashed a few. We got lucky to be honest.’

Ali revealed he hatched a plan with Carberry to negotiate the sticky spell and then have a dart at the home side’s bowlers in the last five overs.

The departure of Carberry threw a spanner in the works, though.

And it left Ali and Briggs to go after the Saltires alone.

‘I spoke to Carbs and we said we will try to get to the last five overs,’ said the former Worcestershire man.

‘With a quick outfield, we were just waiting for that final powerplay.

‘Unfortunately Carbs got out at the wrong time for us but Briggsy came in and batted beautifully.

‘My six was a nice shot, I enjoyed it and it gave me a little bit of confidence.

‘It was a shame I got out at the end but at that stage of the innings you are just trying to hit everything.’

Ali had helped wrestle the momentum from the hosts by that stage.

And after the break Scotland never really got going as they set about their run chase.

Alongside Chris Wood, Ali helped peg them back early on and the hosts never recovered.

‘They did try but the ball was swinging a little bit,’ said Ali, who returned figures of two for 17 with the new ball.

‘Woody and I hit the wicket quite hard early on and we bowled nicely as a partnership.

‘We created good pressure and that meant wickets came quite easily in the end.’

Ali is slowly but surely making his way back to his best after a frustrating start to his Hampshire career.

Injuries have ruled him out of much of the past two campaigns and put the brakes on the start of this season.

But he is back in the swing of things now and has helped the Royals to second spot in the group B table.

‘I’m not complaining, to be honest,’ said the 31-year-old, who played one Test for England – against South Africa – back in 2003.

‘I’ve had a few tricky years but I am just enjoying my cricket at the moment.

‘I am playing with a smile on my face now, so it’s nice.’