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Howell heroics fall short

Benny Howell's late flurry of runs failed to prevent his old club Hampshire recording their fifth NatWest T20 Blast victory of the season at Gloucestershire’s expense, retaining second place in the South Group.

Howell was run out with one ball remaining at the Rose Bowl as Gloucestershire narrowly failed in their quest to score 20 from Kyle Abbott’s final over

Graeme McCarter had to score five runs from the last ball and managed only three as Hampshire squeaked home by two.

Hampshire looked set for a comfortable victory after being put in by Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger and making 180 for six on an easy-paced wicket. Jimmy Adams made an unbeaten 69 and shared a third wicket stand of 68 in 5.4 overs with Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

Gloucestershire responded positively with openers Klinger and Alex Gidman lashing 61 from the first eight overs but the turning point came when spinner Will Smith dismissed them both in the next set of six

Hampshire had the upper hand and the match looked to be all over as their opponents slumped to 121 for seven with the dismissal of Jack Taylor.

It was then that Howell, who left the south coast county three years ago, was joined by Tom Smith in an eighth-wicket partnership which so nearly turned the game on its head.

The pair put on 46 in four overs, with Howell particularly severe on the bowling in an innings of 50 compiled from only 22 balls and including four sixes and two fours. Three of the sixes came off Matt Coles and the other via left-arm seamer Chris Wood.

Gloucestershire required 43 from three overs, 28 from two and then 20 from Abbott's fourth over. Tom Smith raised hopes of a shock result by hitting the first three deliveries for fours.

But with seven needed off the last two balls, Howell was run out by Coles while going for a second.

Hampshire's nerve held but Gloucestershire will regret a mid-innings collapse which at one stage put the required run-rate up to more than 12 an over.

Earlier Hampshire had recovered from a stodgy start thanks to their captain James Vince, who hit 39 from 20 balls, and then Maxwell and Adams.

Maxwell hit two sixes in an over from off-spinner Taylor before being bowled by Smith attempting to pull, but Adams posted his best competition score of the season - facing 46 balls and striking five fours and two sixes.

Hampshire failed to accelerate near the end against David Payne's tight medium pace, while Smith dismissed Vince to a catch at long-off and then accounted for Maxwell.

Reflecting on his side's narrow defeat, Howell said: ''It was disappointing. We were behind the asking rate throughout the innings and I just tried to hit as many boundaries as I could.

''We lost wickets in clusters and at important stages. Coming back to the Ageas Bowl, I was just pleased with the way I scored runs in the fashion I did. I just could not get us over the line.''

Victorious Hampshire captain Vince said: ''It was a bit close in the end for comfort. I thought we had put a decisive score on the board on a good batting wicket.

''There was a short boundary on one side and it was always going to be tough to defend it. We needed someone to stay with Jimmy Adams and if we had I think we would have got something like 200.

"After the start we had a few of us got in and got out again when well set but Jimmy grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.''

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