A nerveless last over by Jon Dakin prevented Hampshire Hawks getting their claws on victory in front of 3,500 hardy souls who braved the chilly, overcast conditions to witness a tight Twenty20 Cup tie here last night.
And if proof were needed that this shortest of short games means something to the players, they only had to witness Wasim Akram flinging down his bat in disgust after he and Simon Katich had failed to score the 12 runs needed for victory in that last over.
Hampshire had looked to be well on the way to victory while Katich and Derek Kenway were clubbing 77 runs in 10 overs in reply to a total that is just about par for this truncated tournament.
They gradually picked away at the Essex total and Kenway was just getting into his stride, when, with a further 53 runs needed in a fraction under six overs, the Hampshire opener fell.
He was attempting what appeared to be a reverse paddle to the pace bowler Scott Brant, only edge the ball to backward square leg where Ravinder Bopara took the simple catch. He was swiftly followed by an out-of-sorts Dimitri Mascarenhas and the balance suddenly shifted.
Wasim, who had shown why he is the finest one-day bowler in the world with a miserly 2 for 19 in the Essex innings, did his best with 20 runs off 11 balls, and Katich top scored in the match with a muscular unbeaten half century from 40 balls, but their 31-run unbroken stand was in vain, the honours went to Dakin and Essex.
Earlier Andy Flower had scored a fluent 49 off just 32 balls, an innings that included a six and eight fours, and 19-year-old Mark Pettini compiled a mature and unbeaten 32 to ensure Essex had something to bowl at.Reuse content