Rilee Rossouw has surely now answered any of his critics. His third half-century in just over a week was converted into his second hundred for Hampshire — and his first at The Ageas Bowl — as his side convincingly chased Essex’s 303 to win by six wickets.
Rossouw had to apply himself far more than he did during his onslaught here against Surrey on Monday. This was the same wicket used in that match; by the end of the first powerplay of Hampshire’s reply, it was lifeless.
His 103-ball century is his slowest in domestic List A cricket but he tailored his temperament to the situation perfectly. The power he showed on Monday was scarcely possible once Essex turned to their spinners, but it was also unnecessary when nurdling easy singles proved a much more effective option.
That didn’t stop his brutal style early in the innings, slapping the ball straight with precision, before being accompanied by his captain, James Vince. Together they put on 126 and while Vince was out just before the halfway stage, Rossouw continued to find gaps.
A freak moment, with Rossouw on 91, looked the only thing to prevent him from reaching three figures. As he dived for a quick single his arm got stuck underneath him and caused him pain to his wrist, with the opener ultimately fine to continue after a lengthy stoppage.
He had a century seven balls later — only his second for Hampshire, his previous also coming in the Royal London One-Day Cup — and by the time he was bowled on 111, trying to heave Ravi Bopara onto the golf course, Hampshire needed 51 from 68 balls.
Jimmy Adams, the south coast stalwart, saw to getting those, caressing his way to an unbeaten run-a-ball 51 to guide his side over the line with 16 balls remaining and send Hampshire top of the South Group.
Vince had been similarly restrained alongside Rossouw, although he struck a glorious six into-out over cover before reaching his half-century and back-to-back sweetly timed sweeps afterwards.
Earlier, Essex had showed signs of a wobble but avoided a collapse akin to their defeat at Gloucestershire, where they lost four wickets for 19 runs. Here, only the kamikaze run out of Dan Lawrence, who hesistated after being called through for a single and had no chance of making his ground, threatened to hand control to Hampshire.
But a quartet of half-centuries throughout the innings kept Essex ticking along to 303, a target that on paper seemed to favour the visitors.
Former Hampshire wicketkeeper Adam Wheater looked in good touch as he recorded his second half-century against his old club since departing in 2016. He played well off the back foot square of the wicket but succumbed in the same manner, miscuing a pull to mid-on for 70.
Tom Westley looked to be positive, striking a pair of lovely drives and sweeping spinners Mason Crane and Brad Taylor well when they strayed from their lengths. He slog swept Crane for six to bring up his second Royal London One-Day Cup 50 of the season but chopped Taylor on soon after.
Wheater and Westley fell either side of Lawrence and when captain Ryan ten Doeschate was caught behind to end a tame innings, Essex were teetering at 209-5.
It required Bopara, the longest serving member of this playing XI, to help steady the ship alongside Ashar Zaidi, whose powerful innings of 57 looked to have given Essex a slight advantage by the interval.
Hampshire bowled poorly at the death, clearly missing the skills of Reece Topley — rested alongside Fidel Edwards — with the visitors adding 85 in the final ten overs. Zaidi led that charge, crashing the ball straight, first for four and then slapping a pair of sixes over mid-off.
He pulled his fifth four to bring up his second half-century in as many innings. A ball previous, Bopara had holed out to wide long on for 55 as he looked to push the score beyond 300. Before that, running him out had looked the only likely way to dislodge him.