Mascarenhas cements Hampshire's top spot
Hampshire 151 for 7 beat Essex 122 for 6 by nine runs (D/L method)
Dimitri Mascarenhas took three early wickets as Hampshire strengthened their grip at the top of the Friends Life t20 South Group with their tenth win in 13 matches. Two stoppages for rain reduced Essex's target, but they failed by nine runs, leaving Hampshire in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals as group toppers.
Mascarenhas took his tally for the competition to 15 for the season by dismissing Adam Wheater and Tim Southee in his first over and then Mark Pettini in his third. The Essex chase never fully recovered although Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara attempted a recovery with a stand of 55 for the fourth wicket. Shah struck four fours and a six off Shahid Afridi in a knock of 38 of 34 balls, but it was not enough.
When Essex came back out after a second rain stoppage they required 56 from five overs and soon lost Ryan ten Doeschate, before Bopara perished going for a big hit at 109. Bopara made 48, his side's top score, but was stumped down the leg side off Afridi and with him went Essex's last hope of salvaging a surprise win.
Hampshire, after choosing to bat, made a competitive 151 for seven from their 20 overs. Key to their success was a stand of 85 for the fourth wicket between James Vince and Sean Ervine. Vince, the match's top-scorer, made 55 from 46 balls in an innings that included six boundaries before he was lbw to Phillips in the 16th over with the total on 117.
Ervine's contribution was almost as valuable, striking 45 from 35 balls. He was the third victim of the innings for Southee, who finished with creditable figures of 3 for 30 from his four overs, while the all-important wicket of the dangerous Afridi went to Bopara. Afridi made only four before he lofted Bopara to Pettini.
Essex, though, were always struggling once Mascarenhas made early inroads that left them 18 for three, and never looked like keeping up with the required-rate.