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Ice-cool McKenzie sees Hampshire home

Neil McKenzie hit a last-ball four to guide champions Hampshire Royals to a four-wicket Friends Life t20 South Division victory over Sussex Sharks at the Ageas Bowl.

McKenzie kept his nerve as wickets tumbled in the hosts’ pursuit of Sussex's modest total of 118 for seven. They went into the last over, bowled by Scott Styris, requiring six to win and a single was needed off the final ball.

As Sussex crowded the South African with a ring of close fielders, McKenzie lifted the ball over midwicket, thereby ensuring Hampshire's third win in four fixtures which lifted them to third in the South Group - two places above their opponents.

In many ways it was a remarkable match despite its low-scoring nature; Hampshire, after losing the toss, were 73 for one at the reply's halfway stage, needing only another 46 for what looked to be a comfortable victory.

A disastrous over from West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Smith had set the Royals on their way. Smith conceded 24 from his one set of six, to openers James Vince and Michael Carberry with each hitting two fours and the latter adding a six.

But from a position of control, Hampshire inexplicably lost their way and McKenzie's winning shot was only their second boundary during the second half of their innings.

Chris Nash and Chris Liddle imposed a belated stranglehold, taking four wickets between them and conceding only 28 from a combined eight overs.

Nash had Jimmy Adams stumped and, when top-scorer Carberry was caught on the cover boundary, suddenly Hampshire were in danger of collapsing.

The majority of the crowd were stunned into silence as Liddle got rid of Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson hit his own wicket and, in the same over from Michael Yardy, Adam Wheater was caught and bowled without scoring.

At 112 for six with seven balls remaining, Hampshire needed the know-how of McKenzie and Dimitri Mascarenhas to see them home.

When Sussex batted, their total never looked likely to trouble the champions; the visitors did not recover from losing Luke Wright,  Smith and Yardy in the first five overs.

Styris and Nash threatened a mini-revival with a stand of 41 for the fifth wicket but the latter's fighting innings of 40 from as many balls could only delay Hampshire's progress for so long, Mascarenhas and Sohail Tanvir each taking two wickets.

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