Spitfires surprise FLt20 champions
Kent Spitfires ended Hampshire Royals’ year-long unbeaten record in the Friends Life t20 with a shock eight-run victory over the defending champions at the Ageas Bowl.
Chasing previously winless Kent's 143 for eight, Hampshire were restricted to 135 for eight as they crashed to their first domestic t20 defeat in 17 matches.
In a quirk of fate, their last loss also came at the hands of Kent in Southampton when they went down by three runs in June 2012.
Hampshire were behind the required run-rate for much of the reply.
They plundered 34 runs off two overs late in the innings to set up a run-a-ball finale, but failed to get across the line.
Beaten in each of their previous five South Group matches, Kent freshened up their top order and handed competition debuts to Daniel Bell-Drummond and Fabian Cowdrey.
The ploy paid dividends with the pair sharing a bright half-century opening partnership in seven overs before England t20 left-arm spinner Danny Briggs bowled Cowdrey and, in his next over, had Bell-Drummond caught at deep midwicket.
Briggs, who returned figures of 3-19, was the catalyst behind the demise of Kent, with Darren Stevens becoming his third victim.
The initial impetus gone, Kent lost wickets in clusters, with Alex Blake and Geraint Jones falling in quick succession to leave the visitors 94 for five in the 14th over.
Sam Billings and Vernon Philander improved Kent's position, but Pakistan left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir returned for a second spell to cut through the lower order, finish with 3-29 and leave the Spitfires with a seemingly below-par total.
Hampshire soon lost James Vince and later Jimmy Adams to slip to 50 for two.
Michael Carberry struck four fours and the first six of the match en route to 35, but then became the third man out with the score on 64.
The asking rate had crept to 11 runs an over by the start of the 16th, but Sean Ervine launched a boundary strewn 18-run assault on Stevens.
Ervine and Neil McKenzie, the top-scorer with 47, took another 16 runs off the 17th over by Philander to lift Hampshire to 124 for three - within 20 runs of victory.
But with Mitchell Claydon remaining calm, Hampshire completely lost their way - their last five wickets falling for nine runs.