THE build-up was all about Glenn Maxwell, but Michael Carberry ended a disappointing day in style as Hampshire recorded a fourth successive T20 Blast win at The Ageas Bowl last night.
Carberry’s frustration at being omitted from England’s squad for next week’s first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s was taken out on one of his former counties as Kent were beaten by 22 runs.
Hampshire’s 171-7 proved too much for Kent, who were restricted to 149-4 in reply, despite a magnificent 89 not out from 63 balls by Rob Key.
Ultimately, the strength of Hampshire’s bowling attack was too much for previously unbeaten Kent, with Danny Briggs' 3-28 strengthening his position as the T20 Blast's leading wicket-taker.
But Carberry’s 58-ball 73 laid the foundation for Hampshire’s latest win and was a welcome return to form for the 33 year-old.
It was the first time he has got out of double figures in T20 cricket since his unbeaten century in last year’s quarter-final against Lancashire.
With Maxwell and Owais Shah failing to make an impact, it was desperately needed.
But after a rare James Vince failure – after winning the toss, Hampshire’s captain pulled the excellent Doug Bollinger (3-19) to mid-wicket in the second over - it was Jimmy Adams who set the tone during the powerplay.
Hampshire made a satisfactory 47-1 after the crucial first six overs, but it would have been a lot worse had it not been for Adams, whose 26-ball 47 represents his highest domestic T20 score since his annus mirabilis of 2010.
The first four overs saw Hampshire limp to 23-1 after the shock of Vince’s early departure.
But then Adams started to play like a left-handed Maxwell, hitting Darren Stevens’ wobblers for three successive fours at the end of the fifth.
Then he upped the tempo, driving Adam Riley for four before reverse sweeping the young off-spinner for a sensational six.
When Adams was lbw attempting to sweep Riley, Maxwell arrived at the crease determined to make his mark.
For all of Maxwell’s box-office appeal, he is yet to produce a big innings at The Ageas Bowl, having failed to hit the heights in four games during his first spell.
He hit his third ball for a spectacular six, going down on one knee before launching England off-spinner James Tredwell over mid-wicket.
But when he attempted to do the same to the next delivery he was caught at deep mid-wicket by Stevens.
It was an anti-climactic dismissal but Carberry, who waited until the end of the powerplay overs for his first four, was now seeing the ball well.
The pick of his shots against Kent’s off-spinners during the middle overs was a lovely cover drive on the up against Tredwell.
When the spinners had finished their allocation, Carberry pulled Stevens for six off the front foot.
Carberry gave the returning Bollinger the same treatment in the 17th before losing Owais Shah, who was caught at deep extra cover in the same over.
Shah’s first dismissal in a Hampshire shirt, for a 15-ball 11, was soon followed by Ervine’s unusual exit, caught behind for a single attempting to Dil-scoop Claydon.
Then Carberry missed a slower ball and a big penultimate over continued for Kent when Stevens ran out Adam Wheater with as a good a throw as you will see, a direct hit with only one stump to aim at.
A Chris Wood scoop helped him to successive boundaries in a valuable last over that saw he and Will Smith take a crucial 16 off Mitchell Claydon.
Hampshire began the reply well, winning the powerplay overs by restricting Kent to 35-1, thanks to Briggs’ dismissal of Daniel Bell-Drummond, caught at mid-on, with his first ball.
Key proved harder to budge. Kent’s captain signalled his intent with a straight six against Smith immediately after the powerplay.
A second maximum, over mid-wicket in Maxwell’s only over, soon had him raising his bat to acknowledge a 34-ball fifty.
Vince dropped a difficult chance over his head on the run from cover to mid-off when his opposite number was on 53.
Key responded by pulling Ervine for his third six and put on 89 in a 62-ball partnership with Northeast, whose 27-ball 35 included a mid-wicket maximum against Briggs.
Northeast sliced Smith to backward point and dangerman Darren Stevens was dropped off his first ball by Ervine at deep backward square leg.
But the television cameras ensured there was no second let-off, when it was confirmed he had been bowled before the ball bounced back against the stumps off Wheater’s pads.
Kent required 53 from the last five overs but another disciplined bowling performance, with Kyle Abbott and Wood to the fore, ensured victory.