Calm Cork succeeds at the death
Hampshire captain Dominic Cork held his nerve in a last-ball finish at Canterbury to clinch a tense two-run win over Clydesdale Bank 40 Group C rivals Kent.
Chasing 238 for seven on a tricky St Lawrence pitch, Kent needed 13 off Cork’s final over of the game with six wickets still intact.
Kent opener Joe Denly chipped a single from the first ball to reach a 107-ball century - the first by a Spitfires player in this year’s competition - but it was Cork who kept his cool.
Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood clubbed a boundary off the next ball, then a two and a single to rotate the strike but Denly, having dug out one sublime yorker, was unable to reach the ropes again - allowing the Royals to bag their third win of the CB40 campaign.
Kent’s pursuit had been based around a fine second-wicket stand of 136 in 24.1 overs between Denly and acting captain Martin van Jaarsveld.
But once the South African went for 73, Kent’s run-chase began to unravel as Geraint Jones and Darren Stevens went cheaply, leaving Denly and Mahmood with too much to do at the death.
Hampshire, who were invited to bat first after losing the toss, found it heavy going early on as both their left-handed openers Jimmy Adams and Michael Lumb struggled for their timing on a slow pitch.
Though Kent helped their cause by leaking four wides in the first four overs from Stevens and Mahmood, the Royals were struggling to hit boundaries and the pair only reached the ropes five times in the opening 13 overs.
The partnership ended with 48 on the board when Adams, on 20, skied James Tredwell’s fourth ball to long-off, where Amjad Khan took a fine catch on the run.
Without ever finding his best form, Lumb reached a 54-ball 50 with five fours only to toss away his wicket to the very next delivery, stumped giving Tredwell the charge.
Despite Tredwell’s return of 3-40, Hampshire increased the tempo late in the innings with cameo knocks of 40 from Neil McKenzie and 46 by former Kent batsman Michael Carberry.
Rookie seam bowler Matt Coles returned for a second stint at the Nackington Road End and profited in the dash for late runs as Carberry, McKenzie and Sean Ervine all holed out to give him flattering figures of 3-59.