Matt Coles and Michael Carberry starred with the bat for Hampshire as they cruised to a five-wicket win at Essex in their final Natwest T20 Blast group fixture.
Chasing the league leaders’ 167 for nine, Carberry set the foundations with a fine 57 before Coles – promoted to a lofty number five in the batting order – unleashed a brutal assault on the Essex bowlers as he hammered 54 from just 22 balls, racing to the fastest 50 in the competition so far this term.
His remarkable knock got Hampshire to within touching distance of victory, although he was unable to get his side over the line.
But it said much that the Chelmsford ground, which is so often a raucous bearpit, had the atmosphere of a funeral as the home fans saw their side taken apart before their eyes.
Hampshire made the perfect start through Will Smith to dismiss the dangerous Jesse Ryder (nought) in the first over.
Essex then made a quick recovery to plunder 30 runs from the next two overs and moved on to 85 for four at the midway point.
But the Hampshire spinners turned the screw, taking regular wickets, although Essex stayed in the hunt by making the most of a short boundary with nine sixes in their innings.
Will Smith (three for 17) was the stand-out performer, although Danny Briggs (one for 31) and Liam Dawson (two for 36) played their part.
Mark Pettini (44) and Ryan ten Doeschate (36) helped Essex to 167 for nine but Hampshire knew if their batting fired, they could chase it down.
James Vince was trapped lbw by Graham Napier to the first ball of the innings as Hampshire got off to the worst possible start in their chase.
But Carberry (57) was in peak form, just as he was in the win over Sussex, as he led his side to 62 for one from the powerplay and then reached his half-century with a mighty six from just his 25th delivery.
His fine knock was over soon afterwards as Ravi Bopara claimed his wicket in his first over with the left-hander going for another boundary.
And Hampshire were dealt another blow when Glenn Maxwell (25) was out to a toe-crunching yorker from Graham Napier, just when he looked to be playing himself back into some much-needed form.
But, in a shock move, Coles was promoted up the order and the burly all-rounder cut loose with some incredible power-hitting – even launching one of his five maximums on to the roof of the nearby flats.
While Coles holed out near the end, his job was done by that stage.
It was a match-winning innings.