Hants targeting return to NatWest T20 Blast South Division summit

Daily Echo: Adam Wheater is part of Hampshire's strong t20 squad Adam Wheater is part of Hampshire's strong t20 squad

Hampshire will return to the top of the Natwest T20 Blast’s South Division if they avenge their opening-night defeat against Glamorgan at The Swalec Stadium – the scene of their 2012 triumph.

Glamorgan stunned Hampshire when they beat the favourites on home soil six weeks ago, a bad night compounded by a groin injury to Liam Dawson, who has not played since.

But Hampshire have won five of their last six games and will go above Essex on run rate if they win their first T20 game in Cardiff since beating Yorkshire in the 2012 final.

Hampshire have not beaten Glamorgan at the Swalec Stadium in the shortest format in two attempts, and the Welsh county have become something of a bogey side after winning their last two limited-overs contests – including last year’s YB40 semi-final at The Ageas Bowl.

But despite the loss of Dimi Mascarenhas and Neil McKenzie, Hampshire have shown they are more than capable of winning a third T20 title in five years.

Eight of the side that won the 2012 final are still with the club – Carberry, Adams, Vince, Ervine, Dawson, Wood, Bates and Briggs – while Glenn Maxwell, who fired Hampshire out of the group stage two years ago, has returned.

Factor in the additions of Adam Wheater, Matt Coles, Will Smith, Owais Shah – as well as the extra experience of the academy graduates – and it is clear that Hampshire’s T20 squad is stronger than ever. All-rounders Smith and Coles have been particularly good signings, giving the Hampshire attack a new dimension as well as strengthening the lower order.

The match-to-match availability of Shah, who has been included in tonight’s 12-man squad after being replaced by Coles on Friday, has been a considerable bonus. Glamorgan and Surrey are just behind Hampshire in the top four.

Victory tonight and against a Surrey side expected to include Kevin Pietersen and Sri Lankan superstar Tillakaratne Dilshan at The Oval on Friday would leave Vince’s men very well placed to reach the knockout stages.

Glamorgan have the competition’s second-highest leading run scorer in Jim Allenby and began their T20 Blast campaign with three wins in four games after chasing down 179-5 to beat Sussex in a last-ball thriller a month ago.

But they have not won either of their last two games, both of which were played at The Swalec Stadium (a tie against Kent after making 177-7 was followed by a 17-run defeat against Surrey, who successfully defended 165-8).

While Hampshire have enjoyed a four-day break, Glamorgan will host tonight’s game on the back of a LV County Championship *result* against Gloucestershire after a day in the field at Bristol.

Hampshire (from): Vince, Carberry, Adams, Maxwell, Ervine, Wheater, Smith, Briggs, Wood, Coles, Abbott, Shah.

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