The Hampshire Royals have beaten Surrey by four wickets in the Clydesdale Bank 40 at the Ageas Bowl.
Surrey posted 175-9 off their 40 overs thanks to Zander de Bruyn (57) and Matthew Spriegel (47) putting on 94 for the fifth wicket. Hampshire got to their target with eleven balls to spare but the points could have been Surrey’s as they fought back valiantly with the ball.
Surrey decided to bat first after winning the toss and named Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Meaker in the starting XI. But they did not get off to a good start and found themselves 16 for 3 in the 6th over as Rory Hamilton-Brown (5), Pietersen (0) and Jason Roy (0) all went in quick succession.
On a pitch that was offering assistance to the bowlers Steven Davies and Matthew Spriegel looked to repair the early damage. Davies was playing nicely but on 23 he was caught down the legside off the bowling of Chris Wood and Surrey found themselves 38-4 in the 12th.
Surrey needed to put some scaffolding around the innings and Spriegel with Zander de Bruyn set about the rebuilding operation. Both played sensibly picking up singles and rotating the strike. The partnership went past 50 in the 24th over as slowly the foundations were re-laid.
Surrey moved past 100 in the 27th over and Spriegel and De Bruyn began to find the boundary as shot making continued to be difficult. The partnership was worth 94 when Spriegel on 47 looked to reverse sweep Danny Briggs but found the safe hands of Sean Ervine.
De Bruyn moved to an excellent fifty from his 65th delivery and at the other end Zafar Ansari gave the innings some real momentum as he took 18 off Wood in the 38th over including the first six of the innings over midwicket.
In the 39th over De Bruyn went for 57 off the bowling of Danny Griffith and Ansari followed next ball for a perky 30. Gareth Batty and Murali Kartik both went without scoring and Surrey finished the forty overs with the scoreboard reading 175-9.
Hampshire’s run chase did not start well as an excellent piece of fielding from Zafar Ansari saw James Vince run out for 2 in the 3rd over. The spinners were keeping the batsmen quiet and in the 12th over the introduction of pace saw Jade Dernbach have Jimmy Adams caught behind for 22.
As De Bruyn and Spriegel had done for Surrey, Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie rebuilt the Royals innings. In the face of some excellent Surrey bowling they slowly steadied the chase moving their partnership past fifty in the 24th over.
Boundaries were few and far between but with Carberry and McKenzie at the crease the hosts were looking favourites to win the game. Carberry moved to fifty with a straight six off Batty as the game moved into the final ten overs.
But Murali Kartik then made a vital breakthrough when he had McKenzie caught by Ansari for 38 to leave Hampshire 126-3. And in the 32nd over Carberry went for 54 when Kartik had him caught behind and Surrey were right back in the game.
Denbach then showed great skill and nerve as his slower ball saw Simon Katich depart for 15 in the 35th over. And Ansari had Liam Dawson stumped for one and the Royals still required 26 with four overs remaining.
Sean Ervine and Michael Bates held their nerve and saw Hampshire to their victory target with eleven balls to spare despite Surrey fighting hard to the very end. Surrey will feel they were twenty runs short of the target they would have wanted to set the Royals but they know despite this loss they can still qualify for the semi finals.
Surrey know they have to win against the Welsh Dragons at the Kia Oval on Tuesday to keep their hopes of qualification alive.