Wheater stars to get Hampshire back on track

Owais Shah. Picture: Neil Marshall
Owais Shah. Picture: Neil Marshall
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HAMPSHIRE finally ended their awful recent run as they turned in a dominant display to beat Surrey by 29 runs and revive their Natwest T20 Blast hopes

After six straight losses, the Ageas Bowl outfit finally looked their old selves again with the bat as they made a positive start to their innings and shook off the setbacks, rather than grinding to a halt.

James Vince (31) and Michael Carberry (18) set the tone with a speedy 36-run opening partnership before the left-hander sliced to backward point.

Vince looked good for his 25-ball stay but it was Adam Wheater (78) who looked in a class of his own and provided the impetus to the innings.

With the wicketkeeper promoted to number three in the order in the absence of the dropped Jimmy Adams, he looked fluent as he cracked 11 fours and one six in his 49-ball knock.

He shared a 52-run partnership with Vince and then added another 84 alongside Owais Shah (37), who also impressed.

But it was Wheater who stole the show and probably deserved to go on to reach his century, only to pick out Kumar Sangakkara in the deep from James Burke’s bowling

Hampshire might have gone through the 200-run barrier, only for a late flurry of wickets costing valuable momentum and meaning they added just 11 runs in the final two overs.

But it was still the highest t20 score at the Ageas Bowl this season and set a challenging target.

Hampshire then got off to a decent start with the ball as Gareth Berg picked up the first wicket in the second over to dismiss Tom Curran (three) before Jackson Bird ripped out Jason Roy (nine) to leave the visitors wobbling at 16 for two.

But the dangerman was always going to be Sangakkara, while Vikram Solanki (34) helped rebuild the innings to get to the halfway stage at 72 for two.

Hampshire found themselves an unlikely hero and in even more unlikely circumstances as debutant Mason Crane (two for 35) picked up the Sri Lanka star’s wicket.

After a tight first over, with Sangakkara squirting a boundary from his final delivery, Crane’s second over was rather less on the money.

But he will certainly remember his dream moment, even though it was from a full toss that should have been clattered to the boundary as Joe Gatting took an excellent diving catch in the deep.

Will Smith (two for 17) then got in on the act in the next over as he removed Rory Burns (two) before the 18-year-old Crane picked up his second wicket, tempting Solanki down the wicket as Wheater whipped off his bails.

Although the teenager was blitzed to the boundary for 18 runs in his final over by Ben Foakes (19), it was still a debut to savour.

Danny Briggs (three for 21) helped Hampshire home with a tight late spell but it was a major relief when the home side saw the game out to get themselves back in the race for qualification.