JAMES Vince has been challenged to lead from the front – by returning to his best T20 form against Middlesex at The Ageas Bowl tonight (7pm start).

Hampshire have lost two of their last three T20 games and Vince’s form has nosedived of late, in his first season as the county’s captain.

After scoring 215 runs at an average of 71.6 in Hampshire’s first four T20 games, Vince, below, has an aggregate of 64 at 9.1 from the last seven.

Only once has he reached double figures and Somerset’s Peter Trego dismissed him for a golden duck for the second time in three weeks as Hampshire collapsed to a 39-run defeat on Sunday.

“Vincey’s been out in the first over about four times and probably needs to give himself more of a chance to get in,” said Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein.

“He’s done a really good job with the captaincy. In the beginning we weren’t sure how it was going to go but on the field he’s been excellent.

“It’s a real feather in his cap, but we need his runs as well.”

Vince has not batted beyond a powerplay in the last seven games and Hampshire became the first county to lose five wickets in the opening six overs of a T20 Blast innings last week, when they were reduced to 36-5 by Somerset.

“If you’re playing good shots you tend to cut your risks and that’s what we have to get back to,” said Benkenstein.

“We haven’t really had an opening partnership, because when Vince has got runs Carbs has been out early.

“We’ve been lucky Jimmy’s played well.”

Vince is not the only Hampshire batsman out of form.

Glenn Maxwell, superb in the Indian Premier League with four rapid half centuries, has only managed 80 runs at 11.4 since returning to the county.

“Ervine was also struggling for a while, but we've got to keep backing these guys, they’re our two biggest finishers,” added Benkenstein.

Hampshire have to win two of their last three group games to qualify for the T20 Blast quarter-finals, with Sussex due at The Ageas Bowl next week and a trip to South Division leaders Essex concluding the county’s group campaign a week on Tuesday.

“The next few games are starting to become really crucial,” admitted Benkenstein.

“We haven’t quite cracked it.

“It would be nice to have a home quarter-final for the club but now we just want to get through.

“We haven’t been consistent enough but then had we beaten Somerset last week everyone would say we’re doing well.”

New signing Nathan Rimmington will make his Hampshire debut tonight (7pm start) after being brought in as cover for Kyle Abbott.

Owais Shah is no longer available after joining the Jamaica Tallawahs at the Caribbean Premier League, but Liam Dawson has made a timely recovery from a groin tear.

Hampshire (from): Vince (c), Carberry, Adams, Dawson, Maxwell, Ervine, Smith, Coles, Wood, Rimmington, Bates, Briggs, Wheater.