Ervine blasts Hampshire home
Sean Ervine hit his first half-century in the Friends Life t20 for two seasons as Hampshire beat Middlesex by four wickets with four balls to spare at Richmond to record only their second victory in the South Group.
Ervine struck five fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 75 and brought up the winning runs with a four off Tim Murtagh.
Hampshire had been set a target of 157 after Paul Stirling, the 21-year-old Ireland batsman who has been tipped by Middlesex cricket director Angus Fraser to become one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world in limited-overs cricket, had batted through the innings to finish with 82 not out, which led the hosts to a total of 156 for two.
Stirling, who made his third half-century in successive t20 innings and his highest score in this form of the game, struck seven fours and three sixes as he shared stands of 38 in five overs with Joe Denly, 67 in 10 with Adam Rossington and an unbeaten 51 in five with Dawid Malan.
They should have made more than that but Denly contributed only eight off 16 balls before Dimitri Mascarenhas had him caught by Ervine at long off, and Rossington had hit only one four in his 19 when he was bowled by Chris Wood.
Glenn Maxwell conceded just 18 runs and even bowled a maiden in four overs of off spin as Middlesex got bogged down in the middle overs and it was not until Malan hit 30 off 16 balls that Stirling got the support he needed.
The Middlesex total still looked beyond Hampshire when they slumped to 41 for three in the sixth over but then Simon Katich, playing his first t20 match of the season because Michael Carberry is injured, and Ervine put on 69 in eight overs.
Katich had scored 40 off 25 balls with four fours and a six when he drove Gareth Berg to Denly at long-off and Hampshire stumbled when Maxwell was also brilliantly caught by the former Kent opener on the midwicket boundary, while Liam Dawson was bowled by Toby Roland-Jones.
There was no stopping Ervine, though, as he made his 75 off 51 balls and Mascarenhas made 14 off eight deliveries to help see Hampshire home.