About the Match
Hampshire suffered defeat against Kent in the last game and they now have 9 points after 9 games, standing at No. 4 in the South Group of the NatWest T20 challenge. Hampshire will host Essex, who are down at No.8 with only 6 points, on 4th August at Southampton. Essex had won the match the last time they met, by a margin of 7 wickets and will be eager to make a comeback here with another good performance. Hampshire, on the other hand, had defeated Gloucestershire previously by 24 runs D/L method, and can prove to be a tough unit to beat on home turf.
Chasing 160 against Kent proved to be an uphill task for the team despite Bailey and Alsop contributing with 40+ runs each and captain James Vince starting the chase with a well-made 39. Rilee Russouw has not been performing to the best of his skills, and will be determined to put up a better show here; the batting line-up has all-rounders like Liam Dawson, McManus, Afridi and Berg, who can help keep the scoreboard ticking.
Earlier, Afridi had used his spin tactics to claim 4-26 while Abbott and Crane had dismissed one wicket each to restrict the opponents to 159; however, the batsmen gave up the fight too early to lose the match by a meagre 5 runs. Against the Gloucs however, they successfully chased down the reduced target of 121 runs after the play was cut-short due to rains. Bowlers Crane, Wood, Dawson and Topley were among the wicket-takers and they contained the opponents at 174.
When they met Essex earlier, the middle-order collapsed like a pack of cards and were unable to defend the lowly total of 124, losing the match by 7 wickets. They have improved their all-round performance since then and will be in better shape to avenge that defeat here.
With two of their recent games abandoned due to bad weather, Essex has been struggling to climb up the ladder this season. However, they will take respite in the fact that they have outwitted Hampshire previously. Chasing 125 runs was a piece of cake thanks to a tremendous partnership between Wheater and Lawrence, who posted 40+ runs each and steered the team towards victory. Ashar Zaidi and Bopara played useful knocks, and with all-rounders like Ryan ten Doeschate, they can surely try to stabilize the innings in the upcoming match.
Earlier, the bowlers led by Bopara’s fine 4-19 had demolished the Hampshire batting unit; they got good support from speedsters like Walter, Mohammad Amir, Dixon and spinner Ashar Zaidi. In the last match against Middlesex, Lawrence used his spin attack to dismiss 3-21 while Dixon and Bopara claimed 3 wickets between them. However, the target of 204 proved to be too much for them and they were all-out for 131. Wicketkeeper batsman, Foster put up a brave performance, scoring 50 off 25 balls while Lawrence showcased his all-rounder skills by posting a well-made 29 off 16 deliveries.
They need to pull up their socks and come back stronger here if they want to keep their hopes alive; they could strategize well against Hampshire and try to repeat the winning performance.
Hampshire has been on a winning roll in recent games and they will be determined to carry forward the momentum here; although Essex has good resources at hand, we feel that Hampshire with the home advantage are better placed to win this time around.