Rossouw hundred sets up Hampshire's route to the title

Hampshire 330 for 7 (Rossouw 125, Northeast 75*, Alsop 72, Denly 4-57) beat Kent 269 (Bell-Drummond 86, Billings 75) by 61 runs

Hampshire’s record total for an English domestic one-day final, built around Rilee Rossouw‘s 125, proved more than enough for them to secure the Royal London Cup in what became a rather one-sided showpiece with Kent’s chasing failing to really ignite.

Having been put into bat – Kent’s preference for chasing rather than conditions being the key factor – Hampshire’s top-order put in a commanding performance, set up by an opening stand of 136 in 22 overs between Rossouw and Tom Alsop. Sam Northeast, welcomed to the crease by loud boos from the Kent supporters – part of a crowd of over 20,000 – who hadn’t forgiven him for his acrimonious departure pre-season, finished unbeaten on 75 off 60 deliveries as Hampshire went past Warwickshire’s 322 (made from 60 overs) against Sussex in 1993.

Still, it felt a little light given they had been 193 for 1 after 30 overs – modern expectations saying 350 was a minimum from that position – as Kent clawed the innings back well, largely through Joe Denly‘s legspin which claimed 4 for 57 including a wicket maiden in the 44th over and two wickets in three balls in the 46th. Without Denly’s all-round capability, Kent would have had huge problems with Calum Haggett only entrusted with three overs in the innings after an expensive start.

Kent had emphasised their chasing skills in the semi-final against Worcestershire and made a positive start through the prolific Heino Kuhn, but his run out – a direct hit by Gareth Berg as he underarmed into the stumps – was a significant blow. Daniel Bell-Drummond was shaping to play a similar role to Rossouw but couldn’t convert into the three-figure score needed and though Sam Billings‘ 75 was timely on a personal level, it came too late. Liam Dawson was impressive with the ball and Hampshire had enough runs to soak up the difficulties faced by legspinner Mason Crane.

Hampshire’s openers had started by hitting fielders with a little too much regularity for their liking, but the innings was kickstarted when Haggett’s opening over was taken for 18 including three boundaries for the left-handed Alsop.

Through cult hero Darren Stevens (who else?) and Denly, Kent did manage to keep a lid on the scoring rate to a degree – it was rarely above six-an-over for the first 20. The stand was broken by Imran Qayyum’s second delivery when the left-arm spinner had Alsop stumped. Qayyum later added a second when he removed James Vince, who had eased along at a run-a-ball, with a catch to long-on.

Rossouw, the former South Africa batsman who had one previous century in the competition this season, played a classy innings, scoring all round the wicket but slightly favouring the leg side where he collected his three sixes. He had made 201 of his 269 runs in the tournament leading into the final from two innings in late May – a century against Essex which followed 90 against Surrey – so it was a timely moment to find top form against the white ball again; a Championship hundred against Lancashire last week will have left him in good heart.

His century came off 97 deliveries with the one significant alarm being when he was close to being run out, backing-up as a straight drive by Vince clipped Stevens’ fingers. He celebrated with gusto, a roar of emotion and a punch of his chest, and had plenty of time to make a huge individual score. He got as far as 125 when he fell to Denly at which point Hampshire’s innings stuttered.

Northeast ensured there remained a direction – a six over extra cover off Harry Podmore the pick of his shots – and his half-century was marked with a mixture of applause from the supporters of his new county and further boos from those of his old. It was about as feisty as the reception at this ground could be. There is clearly no love lost.

In all, the final ten overs of Hampshire’s innings brought just 68 runs but, even in an age where white-ball scores are only heading one way, the added pressure of a run chase in a final still made 330 formidable.

After more than 650 runs to take Kent into the final, Kuhn’s departure – which almost brought a nasty collision between batsman and fielder – was a hammer blow but there were still others who could do his work. However, none could quite get going as was required to keep the hefty target within view.

Denly top-edged a leg-side hoick against Berg and though Bell-Drummond played very nicely, he needed someone to score at a greater rate alongside him. Sean Dickson struggled to get going – save for one beautiful straight drive for six – and fell to a top-edged slog sweep against Crane. Then, when Bell-Drummond dragged on against Chris Wood the requirement was too much.

For Crane, who had an injection in his back to play through the pain for this match and may not feature any further this season after a recurrence of his stress fracture, the day ended with much more celebration that it appeared it may when his first three overs went for 29. Vince had to get through a few fill-in overs, but having seen the asking rate touch nine-an-over gave his legspinner another chance. Consistency remained scarce, but the emotion when he claimed the wicket spoke volumes for a player who has had tough times since his Test debut in Sydney.

Better, still, was to come when he produced a direct hit from the deep to run out Alex Blake. Blake had played a starring role in the semi-final run chase and if he had cut loose Kent would have had a glimmer. As he trudged back, Hampshire had one hand on the trophy.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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