Why Hampshire's tie at Essex bodes well
Sam Northeast has seen the green shoots of recovery in Hampshire's recent Vitality Blast performances.
The AgeasÂ Bowl outfit were held to a thrilling tie by Essex at Chelmsford on Saturday.
Hopes of a second successive victory were scuppered by Ravi Bopara and his superb 39 from 26 balls.
The former England all-rounder was run out by Colin Munro looking for a match-winning second off the final ball.Â
Northeast, who struck 73 not out from 50 deliveries in Hampshire's 170 for five, was gutted not to win.
But after beginning the south group campaign with three defeats, heÂ believes his sideÂ are moving in the right direction.
Northeast said: '˜A tie is better than a loss.
'˜The important thing is we're playing better cricket now and that bodes well.
'˜A lot of guys were struggling with form at the startÂ but we've got a fewÂ starting to pick their performances upÂ and that's always a good sign.
'˜Hopefully we can go on and get some results.'
Hampshire got off the mark on Friday with a 21-run success over Middlesex.
They travel to the capital for the return fixture on Thursday (6.15pm).
And Northeast is hopeful Hampshire can build on their efforts at Chelmsford.
Having chosen to bat first, they lost skipper James Vince for one before Munro smashed 38 off 17 balls.
But when Rilee Rossouw and Tom Alsop were dismissed cheaply, Hampshire wereÂ wobbling at 70 for four.
Northeast was joined by Liam Dawson (32) and the pair added 71 in 61 deliveries.
With the help of Lewis McManus, the former then smashed Matthew Quinn's final overÂ for 19 '“Â including a six off the last ball.
Northeast added: '˜We lost a few wickets in a bit of a cluster, so me and Daws had to rebuild.
'˜We found it quite hard to get them awayÂ but once we did we were on our way. That last over proved quite crucial.
'˜You don't realise it at the timeÂ but that six off the last ballÂ was really important.
'˜T20 is such a crazy game, they are such small margins.
'˜All you can do is go out there, play with freedomÂ and hope it falls on the right side for you.
'˜It was a really, really good game '“Â high on quality and excitement.'
Northeast always felt Hampshire's total was a bit below par.
Essex stuttered to 80 for four before Dan Lawrence's 49 from 36Â balls got them back on track. Bopara did the rest.