Hampshire warmed up for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals with their ninth victory in ten matches when they beat the Sussex Sharks by five wickets at Hove. For Sussex, it was their eighth defeat in their last nine games.
The only surprise was that Sussex took the game to the final over. Hampshire looked on course for a more comfortable victory when their prolific captain James Vince and Ben McDermott put on 86 for the first wicket, striking at ten runs an over.
But Hampshire’s batting faltered after Vince skied Delray Rawlins to the keeper for a 42-ball 65. After the powerplay some tight bowling from Rashid Khan and Ravi Bopara and a flurry of middle order wickets left them needing 43 off the final five overs and then 39 off the last three.
When that boiled down to 19 off two Sussex were still in the game. But when George Garton was called up to bowl the penultimate over Ross Whiteley and James Fuller thumped it for 15.
That meant that leg-spinner Will Beer was on a hiding to nothing when he was called up to bowl the last over, in his last game for the club, with just four runs needed. Fuller cracked the first delivery over midwicket for four.
The Sussex Sussex innings was full of cameos. They lost powerplay wickets and after five overs had scored only 28 runs for two. In the second over the recently prolific Ali Orr skied Brad Wheal to Vince at mid-on. Then Josh Philippe lost his middle stump playing on to Chris Wood, who swung the ball in unpromising conditions.
Sussex red ball captain Tom Haines, playing his first T20 game of the season, and Harrison Ward, took 21 off the sixth over, but then Ward lofted Tom Prest to long on and Haines was stumped charging a googly from Mason Crane. Rawlins swatted two sixes in a 22-ball 29 and Bopara made 35 off 25.
The most entertaining batting came at the end. Garton top-scored with 37 off just 17 deliveries, with three fours and three sixes, one a vast one over long-on. And Rashid Khan scored a typically unorthodox 25 off a dozen balls. Somehow, Sussex had scrambled together a competitive score.