Royals scramble to victory

Michael Carberry saw Hampshire build a solid platform in reply with 41   Picture: Robin Jones
Michael Carberry saw Hampshire build a solid platform in reply with 41 Picture: Robin Jones
The Ageas Bowl Picture: Neil Marshall

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Hampshire continued their unbeaten start to the defence of their Friends Life t20 crown as they scrambled to a four-wicket success over Sussex at a packed Ageas Bowl.

Just as they did in the reverse fixture at Hove seven days ago, the Royals made unneccessarily hard work of what should have been a straightforward run chase.

But they still got the job done in the end in a gripping finish, getting home from the final ball of the match as Neil McKenzie (20 not out) held his nerve once again.

After restricting the Sharks to 118 for seven, Hampshire looked heavy favourites to chalk up another victory at the midway point – easing to 80 for one after 11 overs.

But whether complacency crept in or Sussex upped their game, the contest got rather more tense in the closing stages than it should have – especially when the home side still needed 12 runs from the final two overs.

There was late drama as Liam Dawson slipped and knocked the bails off his own stumps in the penultimate over after a wide had been given, much to the confusion of everyone.

Adam Wheater then went for a duck to create further panic as Hampshire still required six from the final over to get the win.

But the calm figures of McKenzie and Dimi Mascarenhas saw their side home and breathed a huge sigh of relief at earning a win they should have secured at a canter.

While it was another efficient bowling display from the Royals, it was a woeful batting effort from Sussex as they crawled to just 118 for seven from their 20 overs – a total that always looked short.

Sohail Tanvir (two for 24) clipped the bails of the dangerous Luke Wright (seven) in the second over and wickets fell steadily afterwards.

Mascarenhas (two for 19) and Danny Briggs (one for 17) were their miserly selves but only Chris Nash (40) appeared to show any real stomach for the fight for Sussex, while Scott Styris (19) again played well within himself – just as he did in the defeat at Hove a week ago.

To be fair, the Royals were sharp in the field once again and Jimmy Adams took a stunner of a one-handed catch to dismiss Ben Brown after he blasted a full-blooded drive, while catches were held when they had to be.

In reply, Michael Carberry (41) took a while to get going but then batted like a man with a pressing dinner date as he clattered everything within sight to the boundary in a bid to seal an early finish and a quick getaway.

The opening stand between himself and James Vince (22) saw them bring up the 50-partnership in the sixth over as the platform was built.

But as the wickets tumbled and the runs dried up alarmingly, it made for a frenetic finish to the game.