Nerveless McKenzie does it again
Hampshire 122 for 6 (Carberry 41) beat Sussex 118 for 7 (Nash 40) by four wickets
Neil McKenzie hit the last ball of the match for four to guide champions Hampshire to a four-wicket win over Sussex in the Friends Life t20 South group clash at the Ageas Bowl.
Experienced McKenzie kept his nerve as wickets tumbled in Hampshire's pursuit of Sussex's modest total of 118 for 7. They went into the last over from Scott Styris requiring six to win and a single was needed off the final ball.
As Sussex crowded the South African with a ring of close fielders, McKenzie lifted his shot to midwicket, thereby ensuring Hampshire's third win in four fixtures.
In many ways it was a remarkable match despite the low-scoring because Hampshire, after losing the toss, were 73 for 1 at the halfway stage, needing only another 46 for what looked to be a comfortable victory.
A disastrous over from West Indian Dwayne Smith had set Hampshire on their way. Smith conceded 24 from his one and only over to openers James Vince and Michael Carberry with each hitting him for two fours and Carberry adding a six.
But from a position of control, Hampshire inexplicably lost their way and McKenzie's winning shot was only their second boundary during the second half of their innings..
Chris Nash and Chris Liddle imposed a belated stranglehold, taking four wickets between them and conceding only 28 from their combined eight overs. Nash had Jimmy Adams stumped at 80 in the 12th over, top scorer Carberry (41) was caught on the cover boundary at 84 and suddenly Hampshire were in danger of collapsing.
The majority of a crowd of around 8,000 were stunned into silence as Liddle got rid of Sean Ervine at 101, Liam Dawson hit his own wicket at 111 and in the same over from Michael Yardy, Adam Wheater was caught and bowled without scoring.
At 112 for 6 with seven balls remaining Hampshire needed the know-how of McKenzie and Dimitri Mascarenhas to see them home, leaving Sussex to regret Smith's desperate intervention.
When Sussex batted their total never looked likely to trouble the champions and they did not recover from losing Luke Wright, the luckless Smith and Yardy in the first five overs.
Styris and Nash threatened a mini-revival with a stand of 41 for the fifth wicket but Nash's fighting innings of 40 from as many balls could only delay Hampshire's progress for so long, Mascarenhas and Sohail Tanvir each taking two wickets.