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Spitfires crash to Hampshire defeat
Spitfires crash to Hampshire defeat

James Fuller, Benny Howell and Liam Dawson’s late sixes gave Hampshire Hawks a stunning comeback victory over Kent Spitfires to get their Vitality Blast campaign going.

The Hawks required 42 off the last three overs but three maximums in a row from Fuller turned the game before Howell and Dawson smashed over the ropes in clutch circumstances to win by three wickets.

All-rounder Joey Evison picked up three for 31 – his second-best T20 figures – to put Kent in control before the late efforts handed Hampshire their first T20 win of the season.

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Billings’ 40s were the foundations for the Spitfires 165 for nine but it didn’t quite prove enough as Spitfires have one win and one loss so far.

Chasing 166 to win, Ben McDermott and James Vince were circumspect, with barely a shot in anger during a 42-run powerplay, as timing became a struggle.

Australian McDermott attempted to accelerate things but while his pulled six worked, his hoick two balls later only picked out the deep midwicket positioned Crawley.

Nick Gubbins was drafted in to replace Ali Orr – who broke his arm while batting against Surrey – but his second T20 appearance for Hampshire ended identically as his first, ie a duck, which gave Joey Evison his second in an over.

Evison grabbed his third when Vince tried a slog out of desperation to end his stodgy 35 off 32 before Friday night hat-trick taker Matt Parkinson joined the party when Toby Albert reversed to point.

Joe Weatherley and James Fuller continued to tick under the rate until the 18th over as the game looked lost.

But with 42 still required, and Beyers Swanepoel bowling, Fuller bludgeoned to long on, straight then straight again for three sixes in a row – brining up a fifty stand with Weatherley.

Even though the South African found an edge the following ball the momentum had swung with 18 needed off the final two overs.

Weatherley fell for 49 when he picked out long on but a Benny Howell six off the final ball of the penultimate over moved the dial to the hosts again.

With nine now needed in the last, the previously expensive Grant Stewart had Howell caught but was smashed over the ropes by Dawson, before a scampered single gave Hawks an unlikely victory.

Earlier, Kent chose to toss and piled on the runs in the powerplay under blue skies. Chris Wood – in his testimonial year – was the only to stem the early runs with his two overs going for just five runs.

At the other end, Daniel Bell-Drummond blitzed 42 off 27 balls with hardly anything avoiding the middle of his bat – with the four overs not bowled by Wood in the powerplay going for 52.

But things swung on the final two balls of the final six overs when James Fuller had Bell-Drummond caught and bowled after a six-second hang time – after a 59-run opening stand – and bowled Tawanda Muyeye.

Fuller would have to wait another five overs for his hat-trick ball, which was keenly dealt with by Joe Denly, although Benny Howell spread Zak Crawley’s stumps.

Sam Billings and Denly rebuilt with some smart running in a 60 stand, but they both fell in a Liam Dawson over – the former caught behind while reverse sweeping on 43 and the latter holing out to long-off.

From then, the Hawks cramped the Spitfires with 31 runs coming off the final four overs, which all saw a wicket fall.

Hampshire Hawks all-rounder Liam Dawson:

“It was a very good game of cricket. We probably weren’t at our best today again but we are happy to get our first T20 win of the summer.

“We were quite a way behind so Foz hitting those three sixes changed the whole momentum of the game. I think if we’re honest, we probably left it a little bit too late today. We let the run rate build a bit too much on a big ground where it is hard to score at 12 an over.

“Howell’s six was a massive boundary. With Fuller and Howell, we’ve got some very strong power hitters there. We know that we can catch up if we need to, but ideally we don’t want to leave it that late again.

“I had a rough idea what he was going to do – bowl to the longer side into the pitch – and thankfully I connected with it and it managed to go for six. There was relief but I knew I have three balls to hit a boundary to win the game. I executed it well.

“It’s nice to win. We usually leave it a little late to get on the board and we’ve got a few days off before heading to Bristol and Somerset. If we win one of them it would be good, if we win two it would be excellent.”

Kent Spitfires all-rounder Joey Evison:

“It’s pretty gutted. We’re pretty devastated, actually. We felt like it all came down to the death overs for both sides. I think we were 40 for 6 in the death period, and they got 60-plus runs.

“I felt we were right in it, right until the very end. We controlled the game really nicely. To keep them under 45 in the powerplay, was a great effort on a really nice batting wicket. But to come out on the wrong side of it, it’s not a nice feeling.

“Fuller and Benny Howell batted well, and Joe Weatherley batted superbly. We controlled the game, and it all happened in the last four or five overs.

“I bowled really nicely today. I felt like my change of pace worked really nicely on that wicket. I got a couple of wickets in an over which changed the game, but they fought back well.

“We’ve shown some nice glimpses of cricket. We had a complete performance against Middlesex in the first game, but we played some really nice cricket in this game as well in this game.

“There’s still 12 games to go in this competition, so it’s about peaking up the right time. But it would win have been nice to wo this one away from home as well.”