Hampshire’s bid to reach a staggering seventh consecutive T20 finals day was further derailed by a crushing defeat at the hands of Surrey. Kumar Sangakkara’s dazzling 72 was the highlight of the home team’s 188-5, with T20 debutant Dominic Sibley weighing in with a valuable 67.
For Hampshire, winners of the competition in 2010 and 2012, this was a second reverse in 24 hours, following their loss at Kent last night.
Only opener Lewis McManus, elevated into the first team this week following his coruscating 118 from 62 balls for the second X1 at Somerset on Tuesday, put up any sustained resistance in the Hampshire reply here, before succumbing for a steadily accumulated 41 when he top edged a sweep in the 13th over off Sibley.
Surrey, meanwhile, move to the summit of the Natwest T20 Blast south group as a result of this comprehensive victory, as the original masters of this format seek their first success in the tournament since its inaugural edition in 2003.
Playing in front of a 16,700 crowd on a balmy night at The Kia Oval, Jason Roy was lucky to see a miscued pull off Will Smith at the end of the game’s second over land harmlessly behind the wicket, with the right-hander then capitalising on his reprieve by crashing his next delivery to the boundary.
Sibley swiftly joined the party by hitting Gareth Andrew for a leg side maximum. But Darren Sammy’s arrival into the visitors’ attack quickly brought about Roy’s downfall, the England limited overs opener getting a leading edge off the West Indian to send the ball into the mitts of a grateful McManus at mid-off.
Next man in Sangakkara hit his fourth and fifth balls over the fine leg and long-on boundaries respectively. And Sammy’s strategy of going round the wicket to try to contain the Sri Lankan genius merely saw the Saint Lucian cut to third man for four by his fellow World T20 winner.
Hampshire captain Sean Ervine, deputising in place of England’s James Vince, marked the conclusion of the powerplay overs by introducing the leg-spin of Mason Crane. But it was off Liam Dawson, the seventh visiting player to turn his arm over in the opening eight overs, that Sibley played what was hitherto the shot of the night, a sweet loft over extra cover for six.
Sangakkara was soon planting Smith straight back over his head, before compounding the spinner’s misery by dispatching him high over midwicket and 20 rows back into the Peter May stand, as Surrey rattled along to 97-1 at the half-way mark of their innings.
Sangakkara brought up his 29th T20 fifty, scored off 25 balls, by slapping Tino Best down to Dawson at fine-leg. And Sibley promptly reached his own half-century in the 12th over by helping Andrew’s wayward delivery the down leg-side and to the ropes.
Surrey No 3 Sangakkara wrested stroke of the night honours from Sibley by stepping across his stumps and impudently flicking Andrew to the fine leg boundary, before the pair, very much at either end of their careers, chalked up their 100 partnership in the 13th over.
But in the 14th Sammy recovered from falling victim to Sangakkara’s second six of the night by having the 38-year-old caught at wide mid-on by Crane.
As Hampshire subsequently sought to apply the brakes to the home team’s effort, Dawson could only get the faintest touch on a crunching, rising Sibley drive that hared away for four.
Another man on his first T20 outing, Ryan Stevenson, sent down a terrific 16th over of the hosts’ innings, which reaped some reward when the 24-year-old had Dwayne Bravo caught behind for a scratchy three off six balls. And when Sibley, attempting to get a wriggle on in the following over, picked out Stevenson on the mid-wicket boundary, Hampshire had regained a measure of control.
Tom Curran nicked behind to give Stevenson a second scalp, and become the fourth Surrey wicket to fall for 24 runs in fewer than four overs.
Zafar Ansari took the fight back to Hampshire by smashing two leg side sixes in the final over to lift his team up to a challenging 188-5.
The away team were quickly a man down in reply when Jimmy Adams chopped on to Sam Curran, one ball after cutting the teenager for six. That brought Adam Wheater to the crease, but this was not to be the former Essex wicketkeeper’s night: Sibley continued his dream debut by beating the batsman’s defences and sending him back for a rather frenetically compiled eight.
McManus would have been next to go but for a mix up between Bravo and Sibley, a mix-up that nearly led to the duo colliding head-on as they allowed the youngster’s uncontrolled drive to land, unmolested, in the deep.
Erivne, however, who struck 56 in his side’s forlorn chase at Kent on Wednesday, was soon on his way for one, nicking Ravi Rampaul into the gloves of Ben Foakes. A furious Dawson was next to go, beaten all ends up by a fine Tom Curran delivery, having scored just a single – and leaving Hampshire reeling on 35-4 in the sixth over.
Nineteen balls later, and with only 17 more runs on the board, Smith chipped Ansari down Bravo’s throat on the mid-wicket boundary. And when Sammy went on the slow left-armer’s very next delivery, the game was well and truly up for the away team.
After McManus had gone, Andrew summoned up a final act of defiance, first smiting Sibley for six then reverse sweeping him for four. But the left-hander’s fun was ended when Rampaul had him pouched by fellow West Indian Bravo for 31 – and the end was nigh.
It was an elated Bravo who wrapped up his team’s 80-run triumph by first removing Stevenson for three, and then fellow former Windies international Best, whose off-side thrash from just his second ball was easily caught by Roy.