Kent leave Royals winless
Hampshire are still without a victory in this year’s Friends Life t20 after suffering a three-run defeat to Kent under the Ageas Bowl floodlights.
Winners in 2010 and beaten semi-finalists last season, Hampshire fell narrowly short of Kent's 151 for five despite a furious 18-run assault off the penultimate over of the South Group game.
Kent’s win owed much to Sam Northeast, whose unbeaten 46 off 32 balls in the second phase of the innings gave the visitors a competitive total.
Kent's progress had been subdued until then, with only 56 runs on the board at the mid-point.
Sam Billings provided early promise but Dimitri Mascarenhas and Chris Wood bowled effectively, preventing either Azhar Mahmood or Darren Stevens from imposing themselves.
The pair broke the shackles by plundering 17 runs off the first over of left-arm spin by Danny Briggs but were dismissed within three runs of each other to leave Kent 78 for four.
Brendan Nash and Northeast eventually got the scoreboard moving, with 41 runs coming off five overs.
Northeast, with a six and six fours in his 46 not out, and Matt Coles plundered 36 runs off the final two overs to leave Hampshire with a more difficult run chase than they might earlier have envisaged.
Hampshire's response was brisk and positive - Kent spilling three regulation catches as Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry put on 51 in six overs.
The scoring rate then dipped but Hampshire remained on course at 73 for one after 10 overs.
However, James Tredwell and Mark Davies culled Hampshire's progress with a crucial six-over spell yielding only 26 runs.
Hampshire were left needing to score at almost 10 an over in the closing stages and 37 runs off the final two overs.
Australian Glenn Maxwell and former South Africa Test batsman Neil McKenzie cracked 18 runs off the penultimate over from Azhar.
It left Hampshire needing another 18 to win it off Coles - a task that proved just beyond them as the Royals fell four runs short of victory at 148 for six.