Southee and Phillips take the plaudits
Essex duo Tim Southee and Tim Phillips produced superb all-round performances, while Shahid Afridi’s debut for Hampshire proved to be a damp squib as they suffered their first defeat of their Friends Life t20 campaign, by 26 runs at Chelmsford.
New Zealander Southee provided some lusty hitting at the top of the order, thumping six fours and five sixes in his innings of 74 off just 34 deliveries, while Phillips’ 33 down the order helped take Essex to 162 for seven.
Phillips and Southee then shared seven wickets and four catches as Hampshire were bowled out for 136, with James Vince’s 52 the only real show of resistance from the Royals, who saw Afridi bowled for a third-ball duck as he aimed a heave at left-arm spinner Phillips.
South Group leaders Sussex failed to take advantage of their immediate rivals' slip-up as they suffered an agonising two-run loss to Glamorgan at the SWALEC Stadium.
Glamorgan set what looked like a sub-par score of 137 for three, with openers Mark Cosgrove and Alviro Petersen striking 34 and 38 respectively and Jim Allenby hitting three fours in a 27-ball unbeaten 30.
At 78 without loss off 11 overs, Sussex appeared to be cruising towards another victory, but they lost wickets at crucial stages and, although opener Chris Nash was unbeaten in making 64, they could manage only 135 for four.
Scott Newman’s valiant 61 was not enough to stave off Middlesex's 21-run defeat to former employers Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Captain Rory Hamilton-Brown and Jason Roy got Surrey off to a flying start before Tom Maynard’s 50 off 37 balls and some lower-order hitting from Yasir Arafat helped them reach 163 for five.
Paul Stirling’s 34 at the top of the order gave Middlesex impetus to their reply, which Newman carried on with aplomb, but, despite hitting seven fours and a six before being bowled by Arafat, the visitors fell some way short.