Ben Charlesworth kept Gloucestershire’s hopes of reaching the knock-out stage of the Royal London Cup alive with a career-best 99 not out in a seven-wicket win over Hampshire at Bristol.
The 20-year-old left-hander smacked 13 fours, sharing an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 130 with Jack Taylor, who finished on 67, having been dropped twice, as the hosts reached a target of 205 with nine balls to spare.
In a match reduced to 37 overs per side, Hampshire ran up 204 for eight after winning the toss, Tom Alsop top-scoring with 57 and sharing an opening stand of 90 with Tom Prest.
Graeme van Buuren claimed three for 36 with his left-arm spin and the total looked below par, despite a slow pitch.
On a blustery day, play did not start until 1pm following heavy overnight rain. Both Hampshire openers rode their luck early on, Prest being dropped on three by Tom Smith at point off Matt Taylor.
It proved an expensive miss as Prest and Alsop brought up their fifty stand in the ninth over and added to it with increasing confidence until Smith atoned for his error by beating Prest’s defensive push and bowling him to end the partnership.
Alsop went to his half-century off 61 balls, with 4 fours, before Nick Gubbins was caught at fine leg off Josh Shaw with the total on 110 in the 20th over.
Things began to go awry for Hampshire when Joe Weatherley called for a single to short cover off Smith and Chris Dent’s throw to the wicketkeeper’s end saw Alsop run out.
Ian Holland contributed 17 before falling lbw to van Buuren reverse sweeping and it was 145 for five when Weatherley was bowled by the same bowler on the back foot.
Lewis McManus lifted a big six over mid-wicket off van Buuren, who took his revenge with a smart caught-and-bowled above his head to make it 190 for six.
Felix Organ was run out in a mix-up over a quick single and, although James Fuller hit a superb six over extra cover off Dan Worrall, a clatter of late wickets saw Hampshire’s innings fold disappointingly.
With a required run rate of less than six an over, Gloucestershire openers Ben Charlesworth and Chris Dent began cautiously.
They had taken the score to 47 in the 11th over when Dent fell leg before, trying to sweep off-spinner Prest, who quickly followed up by having Tom Lace caught off a top edge attempting the same shot.
It was 75 for three when van Buuren fell lbw on the back foot to Holland and the game looked evenly poised.
But Charlesworth was looking increasingly in command as he moved to fifty, from 67 balls, with a gloriously timed four, lifted elegantly back over off-spinner Organ’s head.
Taylor attacked at every opportunity to reach a 47-ball half-century, but was lucky to get there as he was dropped at third man by Organ off John Turner on 49.
The century stand occupied 90 deliveries. Taylor was dropped again on 63, by Turner at fine-leg off Weatherley, before Charlesworth pulled a boundary off Holland to pass his previous best score for Gloucestershire of 87.
Time ran out for him to get a century. But it was an innings rich with promise that he will long remember.