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Kent tumble to Hampshire defeat
Kent tumble to Hampshire defeat

Liam Dawson astounded Utilita Bowl with a 28 ball 56 to give Hampshire a sensational six-wicket in the Vitality County Championship victory over Kent.

Hampshire were given 179 runs to chase in 31 overs, and after Toby Albert, Fletcha Middleton and James Vince had given them a flyer, Dawson made it a cakewalk.

His two sixes and seven fours meant he completed the win in 23 overs to keep Hampshire in the title race with three wins in their last four matches.

Kyle Abbott had taken a five-wicket haul while 84-maker Harry Finch had frustrated the hosts, but Kent remain winless in the Championship since May 3.

In the gloomy evening chase, Fletcha Middleton and Toby Albert remained as openers but hit their T20 switch to put on 41 in seven overs – coloured in with Middleton clearing long on and Albert scooping Grant Stewart over the ropes.

Albert edged behind but James Vince carried on the momentum with 32 off 21 – which included a humungous slog sweep six.

But Vince was yorked and Middleton was bamboozled by a pea-roller either side of a rain delay which lost one over.

Nick Gubbins and Dawson initially put the power-hitting back in the locker, with the run-rate in hand, to focus on smart running and precision strikes.

But then Dawson ran amok to terrorise Matt Parkinson and Nathan Gilchrist – whose figures were an unflattering two for 48 and one for 52 and included Dawson led overs which went for 14 and 19.

Gubbins holed out but James Fuller got Hampshire over the line with seven overs to spare when he threw his bat at a wide delivery.

Hampshire started the day needing eight wickets at the very least on the final day, with their lead a slender 30. But were a bowler down all day after Keith Barker pulled out of an over the previous evening, initially thought to be cramp.

It was hardly helpful when Jack Leaning was dropped on 32 and 43, although only lasted two further balls after the second shelling when an attempted hook was glanced to wicketkeeper Ben Brown.

That ended a 106-run partnership with Ben Compton, who had been a brick wall to frustrate Hampshire as long as possible, while also giving his side a slim chance of victory.

His gritty stay ended when he was adjudged to have gloved the ball to short leg before Joey Evison was pinned by a delivery which stayed low from Fuller.

What Compton had started with his 92, Harry Finch continued, initially at a quicker rate than his predecessor – especially during his 72-run stand with Tawanda Muyeye.

The wicketkeeper-batter was the glue with the tail, as Leaning had been in the first innings, although Muyeye, Charlie Stobo and Grant Stewart all fell to the rampaging Abbott.

Muyeye hit onto his own stumps, Stobo was undone by a beauty which hammered the top of off stump and Stewart was lbw to a full in-ducker.

Finch was tigerish though as he reached 50 in 81 balls, and found company with Parkinson – who like the first innings helped add 44 for the ninth wicket.

Parkinson tickled Mohammed Abbas behind but another 23-run stand for the last wicket further maddened a tetchy Hampshire before Abbott finally wrapped things up, via a Finch top edge and a juggling Vince. Abbott returning five for 85.

The 179 should have been a test, but Hampshire won at a canter.

Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson:

“An amazing win. We did about 210 overs in the field and everyone put in an amazing shift in especially Abbo there to get five wickets. A phenomenal effort from everyone and a great win.

“It is never easy chasing anything over 150 in the fourth innings, especially with only 30 overs left. We knew it was going to be tough but we also knew the wicket was still pretty good and probably got better as the game went on.

“We were always going to go for it. The way the openers started and got to 40 without loss made a huge difference and the way Vince and Gubbo batted were brilliant as well.

“I was a little worried about the weather, I was looking at the clouds at the back with about 30 runs left so decided to take Gilchrist on a bit. I’m delight to get us over the line.

“We have played some really good cricket in the last four games. We know how we can play four day cricket and was a little off at the start of the year but I think we have really clicked now.

“We are in a decent position in the league now with five games left. We are in it and that’s all we can ask for.”

Kent wicketkeeper-batter Harry Finch:

“The plan today was to get through to the end and we weren’t too far away. If I hadn’t got out in the last over before tea then we could have dragged things out.

“I felt like we had a decent chance of trying to win that but fair play to Daws, he played unbelievably.

“On reflection, we have lost the game from the first innings. If we are be honest it wasn’t a 50 plus pitch but there are lots of positives to take.

“The last few days our batting has been really good and it was great to have Jack Leaning back and playing well.

“Situations like that tend to bring the best out of me, and I think I managed the tail pretty well. A lot of credit has to go to the tail, Parky faced 40-odd balls and Gilly could have got 20 if I hadn’t been turning down runs.

“I don’t feel we have lost this one, it feels like they won this one.

“We have just spoken in there that when our backs are against the ropes, we tend to play our best cricket. I’m fully confident that we can put in some performances.

“It has been disappointing with results but it is about momentum. If we get one win away they will start to come. We aren’t actually playing that badly and in this game we showed plenty of fight.”