Royals in a rush as they leave Spitfires stunned

Shahid Afridi bowled by van Jaarsveld
Shahid Afridi bowled by van Jaarsveld
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Sam Northeast during the press conference at the Ageas Bowl on Friday. Picture:

Northeast: I can realise my dreams with Hampshire

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Another day, another stunning Friends Life t20 bowling display from the Royals.

On a wicket that may have been more familiar in Karachi, it was no surprise that Hampshire’s attack prospered.

Perhaps the surprise, however, was that the spinners were not the men to cause the majority of the damage – although they certainly played their part.

Having got themselves to 141 for six – thanks mainly to another disciplined effort from Neil Mckenzie (48) – the Royals may have thought it would take another top display with the ball to defend it.

Yes, the pitch was not exactly a batsman’s paradise having been used on several occasions in recent weeks.

But how often have we seen poor bowlers put to the sword in the shortest form of the game?

This was a pitch to offer a stern examination to batsmen and gave encouragement to the bowler, offering plenty of turn and sideways movement.

Most notably, Dimi Mascarenhas (three for 29) got the ball to talk and set the tone with a wicket maiden in the first over as Shahid Afridi even had time to nonchalantly shoot a sideways glance at Dominic Cork before pouching a skier from Joe Denly.

It was nought for two in the next over as Cork completed a disjointed hat-trick spread over two games.

He struck with his first ball having knocked over Chris Liddle and Monty Panesar in consecutive deliveries to wrap up the win over Sussex.

And then Imran Tahir took a remarkable catch over his shoulder to dismiss Rob Key to make it two for three.

It already seemed like the game was up for Kent who were already reduced to 10 batsmen, with Martin van Jaarsveld suffering a hand injury.

The dangerous Darren Stevens (20) briefly threatened but, at 31 for five, there was no way back for the Spitfires when Danny Briggs produced a beauty that clattered the stumps.

It was simply a matter of time before the victory was complete.

Afridi got in on the act to take care of Adam Ball.

Meanwhile, Tahir (two for 12) was licking his lips when he saw the pitch that was waiting for him and duly delivered to account for Geraint Jones – who played one of the more ridiculous switch hits you will ever see to be trapped lbw – and Charl Langeveldt, who was comprehensively bowled.

Another victory and a place in the quarter-finals already looks assured for the defending champions as they face today’s trip to Middlesex.