Hampshire's outside chance of qualifying for the quarter final stage of the Benson & Hedges Cup in it's last season fell after a poor defeat in the hands of Essex at Chelmsford on Sunday.

Winning the toss on a dank, cloudy morning, the visitors soon lost pinch-hitter James Hamblin in the first over, and Derek Kenway in the fifth.

Hampshire's ploy of scoring quick runs in the opening 15 overs proved difficult in the swinging conditions against the accurate bowling of skipper Ronnie Irani and Ashley Cowan.

Neil Johnson and John Crawley looked to attack but when they fell, only Will Kendall, with a diligent not out score of 34 gave Hampshire any sort of total in their twice interuppted innings, that had been reduced to 47 overs.

Irani with 5-28, his best one day figures was the pick of the Essex bowlers and former Hampshire captain John Stephenson stepped in with three.

Under the Duckworth/Lewis calculations, Essex were required to score 174 in 47 overs and despite losing Stephenson and Napier early on to the admirable Mascarenhas.

England captain Nasser Hussain, making his first outing of the season looked out of touch at the start of his innings, but he then took advantage of the meanial target to score 47 in an 81-ball stay.

Zimbabwean Andy Flower was the mainstay however of the innings, winning the "Gold Award" for his 79 not out, with only Shaun Udal restricting the scoring after Chris Tremlett had limped off after three overs with shin problems.