Ervine Fifty and Afridi-Sammy Show Can't Prevent Kent Win

Sean Ervine's 56 off 34 balls, and 30s from Shahid Afridi and Darren Sammy weren't enough as Kent won by 8 runs

Sean Ervine’s (56) fifty, and booming knocks from Shahid Afridi (35) and Darren Sammy (30), took Hampshire to within touching distance of victory at Canterbury, as Kent Spitfires sealed an 8-run victory in the NatWest T20 Blast.

Set a 194-run target by Kent, Ervine scored a composed half-ton - made up of 3 sixes and 4 boundaries - to help take Hampshire from 2-19 to 112-5, before Afridi and Sammy applied some magic dust to the visitors’ highly entertaining innings.

Afridi smashed 35 off 17 balls and Sammy added 30 off 17 to take Hampshire to 183-9, but superb bowling from David Griffiths (2-24) prevented Gareth Berg (4*) from scoring 11 runs off the final four balls.

Hampshire won the toss and decided to field first against Kent on a challenging bowling wicket, putting in Joe Denly (59) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (35), who kicked off the match with a 96-run partnership.

Having looked difficult to remove, Tino Best (2-24) dismissed both in the 11th over, Liam Dawson catching on the boundary to end a key contribution from Denly and Best clean-bowled Bell-Drummond. 

Best's wickets were essential, and his bowling highly commendable on a challenging deck.

Sam Billings added further to the openers’ efforts, making 55 runs off 30 balls alongside Sam Northeast (38) to take Kent on to 193-3, setting Hampshire a target of 194 runs.

When Hampshire took to the crease, they were immediately pegged back by Kent when Jimmy Adams (5) was removed by Darren Stevens (1-47) and Lewis McManus’ (6) debut innings was ended by a run out.

Adam Wheater (19) and Ervine looked assured with the bat, but their partnership was ended by Ivan Thomas in an impressive seventh over from the Kent bowler, as Wheater was bowled and Hampshire were reduced to 51-3.

Ervine went on to make a fine century though, rejuvenating a Hampshire side who looked out of the contest at 4-63, when Dawson was caught and bowled by James Tredwell.

Afridi began furiously with the bat and was on 32 runs off 12 balls after hitting two maximums in both the 14th and 15th - Sammy then added two of his own sixes to put further pressure on the Kent bowling attack.

This was the NatWest T20 Blast at its best, and two staggeringly talented Hampshire all-rounders in their element.

Afridi was dismissed by Griffiths - caught by Stevens – and, by smashing 35 runs off 17 balls, the Pakistan international had fired Hampshire to within 35 of victory, with 21 balls remaining.

Sammy took the visitors to within touching distance, at 183-8, before his wicket was taken with four balls remaining, also claimed by some excellent bowling from Griffiths, Billings catching from the edge.

Gareth Berg tried to find the winnings runs, but Griffith bowled good line and length to restrict Hampshire to 185-9 at the end of his impressive over and 40 absorbing overs of NatWest T20 Blast action.

Hampshire will continue their search for a second win in the competition when they travel to the Oval to take on Surrey on Thursday evening, boosted by a fine middle-order batting display at Canterbury.