Flower keeps Essex in the running
Essex 163 for 7 beat Hampshire 161 for 6 by three wickets
Essex's hopes of securing a quarter-final place in the Friends Provident t20 competition received a boost when they earned a thrilling three-wicket victory over rivals Hampshire at Chelmsford. Replying to a total of 161 for 6 the hosts squeezed home with just one delivery to spare.
They arrived at the final over sent down by Chris Wood with eight required and James Foster was run out from the first ball trying to scamper a single. But Jaik Mickleburgh kept a cool head to see Essex to the winning post with boundaries from the third and fifth deliveries.
The foundation for success, however, had been laid by 39-year-old Grant Flower. He struck 10 boundaries while making 54 from 38 balls, Simon Jones finally breaching his defence to leave Essex 139 for 4 in the 17th over.
Scott Styris quickly followed, caught in the deep attacking Dominic Cork after making 29 from 20 balls. Tim Phillips and Foster followed him back to the pavilion soon afterwards as Hampshire fought back but in the end Mickleburgh was to prove the match winner.
When Hampshire batted, Liam Dawson and James Adams gave the innings a confident start with an opening stand of 51 in just under six overs. But once they were separated the visitors lost their way. They required another nine overs to send the total into three figures and it was only a sparkling knock from Nic Pothas that enabled them to set a target.
He smashed six sixes and three fours while making 59 from just 27 balls before he was run out from the last ball of the innings. All those runs came during a partnership of 71 from 39 deliveries with Chris Benham.
David Masters, who was to remove Dawson and Adams in the same over, finished with 2 for 19 from three overs while Pakistan legspinner Danish Kaneria claimed 2 for 21 during his four overs.
For Hampshire, Cork, Jones and Danny Briggs each bagged a couple of wickets each - but it was not enough to save Hampshire from defeat.