Hampshire fell to a five-wicket defeat in difficult conditions against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham, as both side’s bowling attacks featured heavily in the NatWest T20 Blast fixture.
James Vince (32) top-scored for Hampshire but an efficient Gloucestershire bowling performance saw regular wickets fall and a first-innings total of 116 posted.
The loss of early wickets at the hands of the economical trio of Jackson Bird (1-22), Danny Briggs (1-23) and Chris Wood (1-24) meant Gloucestershire struggled early in their chasing effort, but battling knocks from Geraint Jones (40) and former Hampshire man Benny Howell (31*) ensured Gloucestershire reached the required total with more than an over to spare.
Vince’s side initially began positively first up as a number of early boundaries, including a huge six sent into the press box by Michael Carberry (12) saw them reach 20 without loss.
Carberry was unfortunate to fall shortly after a Chris Miles (3-25) delivery kept low to see the stumps disturbed. Vince looked in good touch having adjusted to difficult batting conditions to begin and despite the loss of Carberry, the skipper guided his side past the 50 for the loss of just one wicket.
However an excellent double wicket-maiden shortly after from former Hampshire seamer Benny Howell (2-15) saw Hampshire lose both Vince and Adam Wheater (10) and on the back-foot at 57-3.
Two more wickets in quick succession left the visitors struggling further on 79-5 but the recovery was led well by Joe Gatting (22) and Will Smith (18) who guided Hampshire to 103-5.
Despite their contributions, both men then also departed within the same over and this sparked a tumble of wickets as the lower order were dismissed for the addition of just 13 runs to see Hampshire finish on 116.
Hampshire were going to need early wickets in order to regain any momentum and Bird did just that as he removed the dangerous Michael Klinger (0) inside the opening over.
Two further wickets then fell shortly after as an athletic diving stop and throw from Sean Terry found keeper Wheater who sent the ball thundering into the stumps to see the back of Ian Cockbain (10), and seamer Wood lured a false shot from Chris Dent (23).
With the visitors struggling early, their troubles worsened when Peter Handscomb (7) was clean bowled by Briggs to see them reduced to 45-4.
The fantastic opening period from Hampshire was halted thanks to a valuable 61-run partnership between Geraint Jones (40) and Howell (31*). The duo started well and they soon steered the home-side past the half-way stage without further loss.
The pair guided Gloucestershire successfully to 106-4, needing just 11 from the final three overs, before Jones departed. The loss of Jones did not deter either Howell or the hosts however, as the right-hander ensured his side reached the required total with eight balls to spare.