A brilliant innings from Adam Wheater (78) and three wickets for Danny Briggs (3-21) saw Hampshire secure a comfortable 29-run victory over Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast match at the Ageas Bowl.
The hard-hitting Wheater was exceptional in steering the home-side to an imposing first innings total of 186-5, the highest T20 total seen at the Ageas Bowl so far this season.
In reply, Surrey struggled to ever get going as the efficient spin trio of Briggs, Will Smith (2-17) and 18-year-old debutant Mason Crane (2-35) proved too difficult a task with the visitors finishing well short.
Openers Michael Carberry (18) and James Vince (31) got Hampshire off to a brisk start as the duo hit several consecutive boundaries.
Carberry hit four back-to-back fours before he fell attempting another carving shot through the off-side. Vince however continued the momentum and his aggressive stroke-play ensured the attack did not end.
Although the skipper eventually fell, the promoted Wheater looked in wonderful touch from the off as his power-hitting combined with expert placement saw Hampshire build their total further to 85-1.
The right-hander built well with good support from Owais Shah (37) and the former brought up his first career T20 half-century inside 12 overs, the landmark coming off just 29 balls.
Both Shah and Wheater combined effectively and the duo shared a vital 84-run partnership to see Hampshire accumulate their total further on 154-2 with four overs still remaining.
A flurry of late wickets inside the final overs at the hands of the experienced Azhar Mahmood (2-21), including that of Shah, was not enough as Hampshire reached a commanding total from their allotted overs.
The hosts also began their bowling effort in excellent fashion and a wicket apiece for Gareth Berg (1-7) and Jackson Bird (1-27) saw Surrey struggling at 22-2 from the first three overs.
Counter-attacking innings’ from both Vikram Solanki (34) and former Sri Lankan international Kumar Sangakkara (28) helped lead the away-side’s recovery.
The superb Crane, Smith and Briggs proved to be crucial during the middle overs with the leg-spin of Crane proved particularly key early into his spell, with the danger-man Sangakkara dismissed by the debutant in his second over.
Further tight overs from the spinners made sure they restricted the visitors through the middle overs and regular wickets also fell, with Surrey failing to kick-start their innings following the loss of both Sangakarra and Solanki.
With 55 runs needed from the final three overs, a tough task proved to be much too difficult in the end for Surrey and Hampshire emerged with a comfortable victory.
Words: Will Brewster