Essex 162 for 7 beat Hampshire 136 by 26 runs
Tim Southee proved the hero as Essex condemned Hampshire to their first Friend's Life t20 defeat of the season at Chelmsford. The New Zealander first scored an explosive 74 from just 34 deliveries to lead Essex to a total of 162 for 7.
He then followed it up with three wickets and two catches as the visitors were bowled out for 136 in the 19th over. Promoted to open the innings, Southee responded by smashing five sixes and six fours as all the Hampshire bowlers came in for punishment.
Sharing the limelight with Southee was allrounder Tim Phillips. He helped himself to 33 from only 19 balls after coming in late in the order, an effort that contained four fours and two sixes. He then followed it up by capturing 4 for 29 with his left-arm spin, three of them arriving in his final over to put an end to Hampshire's hopes.
Apart from Southee and Phillips, James Foster was the only other Essex batsman to reach double figures, finishing with an unbeaten 29 from 33 deliveries with a solitary boundary.
Dimitri Mascarenhas and Dominic Cork were Hampshire's most successful bowlers with two wickets each, but it was the spinners Shahid Afridi - who made his long-awaited debut following his dispute with the Pakistan Cricket Board - and Imran Tahir who proved the most economical.
James Vince did his best to keep Hampshire in the hunt by making 52 from 44 bowls before becoming one of Phillips's victims. But in the end, it was not enough to deny Essex a victory which very much keeps alive their hopes of reaching the later stages of the competition.
Southee claimed his three successes at a cost of 38 while paceman Chris Wright played his part with 2 for 22.