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McKenzie anchors Hampshire chase

Yorkshire Bank

Neil McKenzie & Tom New

Neil McKenzie keeps his cool despite the loss of two late wickets to secure a Hampshire victory and maintain their semi-final hopes

Neil McKenzie used all his experience to guide Hampshire to a two-wicket win over Leicestershire in their first outing since winning the Friends Provident t20.

As wickets tumbled around him, McKenzie held firm with an unbeaten 51 to help Hampshire home with 13 balls to spare in a rain-affected Clydesdale Bank 40 match and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Leicestershire, choosing to bat first at the Rose Bowl, made 176 for eight from 35 overs, rain having knocked five from their allocation.

Leicestershire struggled to get going with Hampshire captain Dominic Cork taking two wickets before the rain arrived.

Upon the resumption, Jacques Du Toit and Matt Boyce constructed the best partnership of the innings, 71 for the fourth wicket.

Du Toit was caught at midwicket for a valiant 45 and Boyce made 37 before he fell to Benny Howell, the 21-year-old all-rounder making his Hampshire debut.

Hampshire's young side contained eight players who had come through their academy system and one of those, left-arm pace bowler Chris Wood, ripped through the middle order, dismissing Wayne White, Tom New and Jigar Naik in quick succession to finish with 3-39.

Leicestershire's total never looked likely to be enough, although Nathan Buck got rid of Jimmy Adams and Howell to help reduce Hampshire to 45 for three.

However, then came two substantial stands involving the durable McKenzie: he put on 52 for the fourth wicket with Michael Carberry and 55 for the fifth with Liam Dawson.

Nadeem Malik kept alive Leicestershire's outside hopes of snatching an unlikely win when he had Dawson caught at square-leg for 30 and dismissed Wood next ball to leave Hampshire 153 for six with six overs remaining.

Harry Gurney accounted for Hamza Riazuddin with three required for victory and Malik knocked back Michael Bates’ off stump with the scores level, but McKenzie kept calm to secure a fifth win of the campaign for Hampshire.

McKenzie's innings spanned 62 balls and included five fours, while the persevering Malik took 4-40 - the best figures of the match - and Buck caused Hampshire plenty of problems with a sharp opening spell en route to 2-16 from seven overs.