Hampshire fly home from South Africa tomorrow having suffered a second consecutive defeat in their Karbonn Smart Champions League t20 Qualifying Group.
Resoundingly trounced by seven wickets by Auckland Aces at Centurion Park on Wednesday, Hampshire produced an improved performance against Sialkot Stallions under the Bidvest Wanderers’ stadium floodlights this evening, but still suffered a six-wicket defeat, inflicted with five balls to spare.
An hour and a half prior to the early evening start time, the match – inconsequential in terms of the Champions League, but significant for Hampshire in a bid to regain lost pride – didn’t look possible.
Johannesburg was hit by a violent thunderstorm which waterlogged the ground and caused the premature abandonment of Trinidad & Tobago’s match against Uve Next.
But the Wanderers’ superior drainage system and clearing weather enabled the game to start on time.
Hampshire must have feared the worst when Jimmy Adams, skippering as Dimitri Mascarenhas was nursing an injured calf, lost the toss and were put into bat in ‘half-light’ on a damp surface and under still threatening skies.
Yet they began on a positive note with James Vince (18) striking four sweet boundaries before being run out in a mix-up with Michael Carberry (11), who mis-cued a hook shot at the start of the fifth over to leave Hampshire 35-2.
Batting was far from comfortable with the ball jagging and seaming about.
Adams (14) and Sean Ervine departed to leave Hampshire 64-4 just after halfway.
But it set the platform for Australian ‘Master Blaster’ Glenn Maxwell to take to the stage and fire a typically robust 42 off 29 deliveries – an innings which set up Hampshire’s eventual 143-8.
The Victorian, who helped South Wilts win the ECB Southern Electric Premier League this summer, hoisted three big sixes into the ‘outers’ of the sparsely populated 33,000 capacity stadium.
Maxwell sent one six soaring high over square-leg and precariously close to the giant electronic scoreboard, and another almost 100 yards across the grassed area in front of the player’s changing rooms.
Maxwell, who hit four other boundaries, added 56 with Shadid Afridi (14), but after his departure Hampshire added only 31 runs off the last five overs of their innings.
When Liam Dawson, who made a sprightly 16 at the tail end of the innings, bowled Pakistan Test opener Imran Nazir without scoring, Hampshire’s hopes were high.
At 28-3 after seven overs and with Shakeel Ansar and Shahid Yousuf also back in the pavilion – David Griffiths and Chris Wood were the successful bowlers – the odds appeared in Hampshire’s favour.
But the game was ruthlessly wrenched from Hampshire’s grasp by a blistering fourth-wicket partnership between 23-year old left-hander Haris Sohail and Shoaib Malik (39), who added 96 in ten overs before Michael Bates stumped the talented Pakistan Test all-rounder.
Sohail finished with 63 not out – and the man-of-the-match award – as Sialkot Stallions completed a six-wicket victory off the first ball of the last over.