By Martin Smith

Essex (170-7) tied with Hampshire (170-5)

Vitality Blast

Ravi Bopara was run out from the last ball as the Vitality Blast match between the Essex Eagles and Hampshire ended in a tie at Chelmsford.

Needing two runs to win off the final ball, Bopara failed to beat Colin Munro’s throw from square leg, although umpire Jeffrey Evans had to go to the TV umpire to confirm the decision.

Bopara had hit 39 from 36 balls to take Essex within a whisker of only their second T20 victory of the season.

Dan Lawrence had laid the foundation for the chase after 171 with the highest T20 score of his career.

His 49 came off 36 balls with four fours and a six.

Chris Wood kept Essex in check until the late fireworks with three for 27 from his four overs, but it was not enough.

Sam Northeast had earlier finished with an unbeaten 73 from 50 balls that included four sixes as Hampshire posted 170 for five.

It was a comparatively pedestrian innings compared to the 38 from 17 balls, three of them sixes, by New Zealand opener Colin Munro that looked as if it would set the tempo for a huge Hampshire total.

That they could amass only 170 for five after opting to bat was due to an Essex attack who, bar two overs from Matt Quinn that went for 27 and 19, kept a tight rein.

Indeed, four of Essex’s six bowlers went for less than seven and a half an over.

Adam Zampa’s two for 30 was only spoilt by some late hitting by Northeast, while fellow spinner Simon Harmer took one for 21 from his four overs and Bopara conceded 19 from his three.

Essex openers Adam Wheater and Varun Chopra had compiled opening stands of more than fifty in three of the five previous games this season, but they had put on just four when Chopra fell to Ryan Stevenson’s first ball.

Wheater bookended Fidel Edwards’ opening over with sixes over midwicket before he was the second of two wickets in four balls when he charged spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s first delivery and was stumped for a 14-ball 22.

Tom Westley had just beaten him back to the pavilion courtesy of an inside edge to a straight one from Wood for nine.

Ryan ten Doesechate and Lawrence steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket stand of 44 in five overs that included a big six over long-leg by the captain.

But ten Doeschate perished when he top-edged Fidel Edwards to Liam Dawson at wide mid-on.

Lawrence showed his range of shots with a straight four off Dawson followed by a clip to third man next ball for another boundary.

Bopara, moving beyond single figures for the first time this season, helped take the target to 60 from 30 balls.

Lawrence passed his previous highest score in the competition with an effortless pick-up over square leg for six off Edwards to take him to 48.

But he attempted to reach his first half-century in style and only hit Wood to Munro on the long-off fence.

Suddenly the asking rate was 41 from three.

Harmer helped it along with a reverse sweep six off Rahman and Bopara added a second in the over midwicket.

But with 27 required from 12 balls, Harmer fell lbw to Wood.

Neil Wagner hit Wood straight for six followed by a four to make it 13 from the last over.

Bopara hit the first ball from Stevenson for a straight six with James Vince falling awkwardly and twisting his ankle in an attempt to make the catch.

A single gave Wagner the batting, but he went to the third ball when caught on the boundary by Dawson.

Bopara refused a run from ball number four but thumped the fifth through the covers for four, meaning two were needed from the last ball and gave the game its the dramatic conclusion.