Hampshire 158 for 8 (Carberry 54, Coles 4-27) beat Kent 149 (Bell-Drummond 64, Afridi 3-33) by nine runs
Nerveless bowling from Shahid Afridi kick-started Hampshire’s hopes of a seventh successive Natwest T20 Blast Finals Day. Afridi’s of 3 for 33, including the key wicket of Daniel Bell-Drummond, and a rapid 21 helped his new county to a nine-run victory over Kent.
After being put in by Kent captain Sam Northeast, Michael Carberry got Hampshire going with a firm cut to the boundary before hooking Matt Coles fine for another four.
Skipper James Vince, released by England to play in both this game and against Glamorgan on Friday, beautifully drove former academy pal David Griffiths to the point ropes. But the fast bowler had the last laugh as Vince tamely cut to Blake at cover.
Jimmy Adams carted the first Ageas Bowl maximum of the season, pinged way over midwicket. Carberry joined the six hitting party with a huge slog sweep as the hosts reached 47 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay, and Griffiths boasting impressive two over figures of 1 for 5.
The end of the fielding restrictions slowed Hampshire up, as Adams was caught on the deep-square leg boundary by Fabian Cowdrey – only 11 more runs coming before the halfway point.
After being on the receiving end of a Coles beamer, Adam Wheater was caught at third man – a full 180 degrees from where he aimed the shot. The wicket gave the Ageas Bowl fans their first viewing of Afridi, and he did not disappoint as he carved a four through the off side before skipping down the track to boom one to the fence.
The Pakistan allrounder upped the run rate to reignite hopes of setting a defendable score, putting on 40 with Carberry before being bowled by Cowdrey swinging wildly. Carberry had gone about his work quietly reaching a solid fifty from 49 balls – but the glue of the innings departed after firing to the long-on boundary.
Sean Ervine scooped behind first ball before Darren Sammy, on his first appearance since captaining the West Indies to the World T20, skewed a six off his legs. Sammy and Liam Dawson accelerated Hampshire to 158 for 8, although both found fielders in the final over.
Bell-Drummond rode his luck in the early stages of the chase: firstly Gareth Andrew thought he had him caught behind but the umpire adjust the leg-side ball to have flicked the hip. Then Ervine dropped a chance running in from the rope, before Bell-Drummond survived a close run out chance.
But that only encouraged Bell-Drummond as he confidently took himself to a half-century from 43 deliveries – which included a sumptuous straight drive off Tino Best.
Around him, Dawson bowled Denly for 31 just before the 10-over point, and then Afridi stood arms and legs stretched as he knocked over Northeast.
Sam Billings, on his IPL return, was lbw to Gareth Berg but Darren Stevens entered the fray and slogged Dawson for a six and then a four. Sammy got his first scalp of the campaign having the veteran Stevens leg before, before Alex Blake chipped a slower ball back to him next ball.
Bell-Drummond, who had done an identical role to Carberry, was finally stumped by a sharp piece of keeping by Wheater as Afridi came alive; the next ball Coles slogged straight into the hands of Dawson.
Andrew had Cowdrey pinned down lbw and Best knocked over James Tredwell’s middle stump. Griffith smashed a six but Berg had the last laugh as he forced an edge and a stunning catch behind the stumps made sure Hampshire were the victors.
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