O'Brien ton keeps Northants rolling
Northamptonshire 204 for 3 beat Hampshire 200 for 9 by seven wickets
Ireland wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien hit a superb 121 as Northamptonshire eased to their fourth successive CB40 victory at the Rose Bowl where they demolished Hampshire by seven wickets.
O'Brien smashed 10 fours and three sixes on his way to a competition-best score to enable Northamptonshire to surpass their 201 victory target with 31 balls to spare in a one-sided contest.
Hampshire, choosing to bat first, could only muster an inadequate 200 for nine from their 40 overs in which James Vince was top scorer with a durable 58. Vince figured in a stand of 79 for the second wicket with Benny Howell but once they had gone resistance was only spasmodic.
Liam Dawson made a plucky 41 which included a six off Lee Daggett in the penultimate over but it never looked like being enough. Daggett proved to be the most successful of the Northamptonshire bowlers with 2 for 38 and there were two wickets each also for Andrew Hall and Jack Brooks.
Northamptonshire did not make the most of impressive starts when they began their response losing Rob Newton to a caught-and-bowled by Dimitri Mascarenhas at 23, but the match soon slipped away from Hampshire.
Stephen Peters was content to play a minor role as O'Brien took the attack to Hampshire in a blaze of exciting strokes. Peters was leg before to Dawson at 102 but Alex Wakely stayed with O'Brien as a further 85 was added in 14 overs for the third wicket.
O'Brien departed in the 33rd over with only 14 runs required when he was bowled by Simon Jones going for another aggressive shot. Wakely and David Sales knocked off the remaining runs within the next two overs to leave Hampshire with a dismal record, in contrast to that of their opponents, of a solitary win from their first four matches in the competition.
Little went right for the Hampshire attack although Mascarenhas, back after almost a year out with an ankle injury, was rewarded with the wicket of Newton from eight overs which cost him 40 runs. But there was nothing he could do to stop O'Brien, the 29-year-old from Dublin, whose previous best in the competition was 95.