Sharks surprise Hawks with narrow victory

By Connor Steel

HAMPSHIRE HAWKS suffered a second successive defeat in the Vitality Blast on Friday evening as they fell just six runs short versus Sussex Sharks; the hosts sealing only their third win of the T20 campaign thanks to a mix of brilliant hitting from Oli Carter and accurate bowling by debutant Brad Currie on a fast Hove surface.

It was a mixed start for Hampshire as they leaked twenty-three runs from nine balls before taking an opening wicket; Harrison Ward (16) trapped LBW by John Turner following three boundaries. Another wicket fell soon after when an inswinging delivery by Chris Wood tempted Tom Clark (1) into a drive, leaving Sussex on 29-2.

The two dismissals brought Ravi Bopara and Carter together at the crease after three overs; this pair scoring ninety eight unbeaten runs in nine overs to propel Sussex beyond the hundred mark. Sixty four of these runs were scored by Carter alone as he smashed six fours and four maximums, including two 6s off James Fuller.

A tweak was made to the stunned bowling attack and this immediately paid dividends during the twelfth over; Benny Howell shattering the middle stumps of Bopara (30) with a yorker. Sussex’s fourth wicket came 4 balls later as Carter departed for sixty-four off just thirty three balls; the youngster caught at silly-point from Turner.

Patient bowling slowed the run rates and this resulted in a fifth wicket when Shadab Khan played a frustrated shot into the hands of Fuller, leaving Sussex on 142-5. Michael Burgess (26*) and Danial Ibrahim (18) added 37 runs in their short partnership before the latter was out; the hosts finishing on 183-6 after a final boundary.

In response to an ‘under-par’ score, the visitors made a simply awful start with two fast wickets in the second over; James Vince (8) and Toby Albert (0) falling in straight balls from Currie before a hat-trick was denied by Joe Weatherley. But a third dismissal followed when Ben McDermott (2) was trapped in front to make it 15-3.

Hampshire’s chase worsened further when they were reduced to 24-4 half-way through the fourth over; Ross Whitely (1) becoming Currie’s latest wicket as he was bowled. This inspired a counter attack with Weatherley and Liam Dawson combining to pass the 10-over mark without further loss; adding fifty-one runs in six overs.

But this run rate wasn’t increasing enough and Weatherley (33) was trapped LBW by Bopara; Dawson hitting towards his fifty with five maximums as Hampshire passed the hundred mark. Fuller wasn’t able to match his partner’s scoring however and was caught playing a misjudged hooked shot off Shadab’s accurate fuller ball.

Dawson (59) soon departed to leave the visitors stuck on 126-7 in the fifteenth over; Howell and Nathan Ellis playing multiple boundaries to offer hope for this run chase. But with 23 needed off the final two overs Howell (25) fell to a breathtaking boundary catch before Ellis was pinned LBW with two balls left; thus sealing a loss.

Other results mean that Hampshire remain in the quarter final spots with five wins and four defeats from nine South Group matches; but their rivals have played less games in fifth and sixth position. The Hawks will now face trips to both Surry and Gloucestershire before also hosting Essex Eagles at the Ageas Bowl next Friday.

PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE CRICKET: Ben McDermott celebrates with Nathan Ellis as they take key home wicket, but it is all in vain as Hawks suffer defeat against Sussex Sharks on Friday; losing by 6 runs at Hove.