Hampshire’s Friends Life t20 campaign got off to the worst possible start with a rare home defeat last night.
The Royals’ 11-match winning streak at The Ageas Bowl was ended by Middlesex, who coasted to a six-wicket win with four balls to spare.
Middlesex were the last team to beat Hampshire on home turf nearly two years ago and they were comfortable winners against a Royals attack clearly missing the nous of Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir and Dominic Cork.
Afridi will be available for Friday night’s home game against Kent but Middlesex’s batsmen provided a reminder of how much Tahir and Cork are to replace.
With Chris Wood surprisingly left out, Hampshire’s batting had a relatively lengthy tail. But their 157-6 was still their biggest Ageas Bowl t20 total since winning the 2010 final.
Last year, the Royals won every home game they played, despite passing 150 on only two occasions, with Afridi, Tahir and Danny Briggs revelling in spin-friendly conditions.
But 157 was never enough on a fine batting track, the same used for England’s one-day international win against the West Indies two days earlier.
James Vince revelled on it, hitting his highest Ageas Bowl t20 score since his third appearance in the format at the beginning of the successful 2010 campaign.
His unbeaten 64, from 47 balls was an innings of great maturity as wickets fell around him.
It was all the more impressive considering he had woken up to the news of the tragic death of his friend and former England Lions teammate Tom Maynard.
Vince stroked five fours and after reaching his fifty from 42 balls, he slapped Gareth Berg’s medium pace for six over cover.
But the nephew of former Saints striker Steve Moran ensured he lacked consistent support from the rest of Hampshire’s top order.
Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones finished with 4-25, including 3-9 from two powerplay overs.
Jimmy Adams was yorked for a 15-ball 25 before Roland- Jones claimed the big scalps of Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie in the space of four balls.
Hampshire debutant Glenn Maxwell came down the track to drive Ollie Rayner’s off spin for six but then became Tom Smith’s second victim, holing out to long-off for 15.
Roland-Jones completed his haul when he returned to york Mascarenhas (21), who put on 44 from 35 balls with Vince.
Mascarenhas bowled a typically tight opening spell but Kabir Ali was playing his first domestic t20 game since his Worcestershire days and David Griffiths his first for five years.
Both went for ten an over. They were each pulled for six by Paul Stirling (71) and Dawid Malan (46), during the Middlesex pair’s match-winning partnership of 107.
Afridi’s return cannot come soon enough.