Maxwell in right royal show
Glenn Maxwell's spectacular 66 not out from 32 balls fired Hampshire Royals to a six-wicket Friends Life t20 victory against Kent Spitfires.
Kent were seeking back-to-back wins over Hampshire in the fiercely-competitive South Group after beating the Royals by three runs at the Ageas Bowl on Friday night, and they thought they had a good chance when Darren Stevens' 60 off 44 balls took them to 135 for six from their 20 overs on a tricky, seaming pitch at Canterbury.
Stevens clubbed four sixes and three fours before then bowling four overs with the new ball for just 19 runs and Hampshire were struggling at 59 for four when James Tredwell bowled opener Jimmy Adams for 31 at the start of the 12th over.
They need not have worried. By the end of that same over Maxwell had warmed up by hitting Tredwell over long on for six and then driving him high over extra cover for four.
In the next over he pulled Adam Ball for a second six, but it was in the 14th over the 23-year-old Australian all-rounder really pressed down on the accelerator.
With off spinner Tredwell being kept in the attack by Kent captain Rob Key, three more driven sixes and a reverse-swept four by Maxwell meant 23 runs came from the over and Hampshire, suddenly, were 100 for four with six overs still to go.
Maxwell, however, had not yet finished with the Kent bowlers. He then turned his attention to Matt Coles, hitting him for his third four - to go with his five sixes to date - to reach 50 from just 22 balls, and in 14 minutes.
He was controversially denied another six in the 17th over when he pulled Azhar Mahmood high over the mid-wicket rope only for Ball to leap high in the air to catch the ball and then fling it back on to the field of play while still airborne.
Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas came on to the field from the Royals' dug out to query the decision, as Maxwell was credited only with one run for his big hit, but umpires Martin Bodenham and David Millns ruled that Billings' feet had not touched the turf before he released the ball.
Maxwell reacted to the umpires' decision by hitting Coles for two more sixes, while Sean Ervine also slashed a full toss square on the offside for four in an 18th over which cost another 17 runs.
The match was wrapped up when Maxwell then hit the first two balls of the 19th over, bowled by Azhar with just six more needed, both for four.
Maxwell, a Victorian who has played Twenty20 cricket for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash, has been signed by Hampshire as overseas player cover for Shahid Afridi, whose arrival in England has been delayed by visa regulations, but his hitting display here might persuade the county to play him more in the competition.
Before Maxwell arrived at the crease, Adams had provided most of the forward impetus while Michael Carberry had fallen to an athletic return catch by Mark Davies and Ball had removed both James Vince and Neil McKenzie.
Kent's innings had similarly struggled to get going, with Mascarenhas taking two for 14 in a skilful new ball spell before Stevens and Mahmood rallied the innings in a third-wicket stand of 40 in eight overs.
Stevens was eventually out, caught at long on, from the first ball of the final over, while Maxwell also picked up two late wickets with his off spin.