Essex v Hampshire: Matt Coles hits season's fastest T20 Blast fifty
NatWest T20 Blast, Chelmsford
Hampshire 168-5 (17.3 ovs) beat Essex Eagles 167-9 (20 ovs) by five wickets
Matt Coles smashed the season's fastest fifty in the T20 Blast as Hampshire defeated South Group leaders Essex by five wickets at Chelmsford.
The left-hander hit five sixes to bring up his half century off 18 balls before being caught off David Masters for 54.
Essex had posted a total of 167-9 thanks to Mark Pettini (44), Ryan ten Doeschate (36) and Tom Westley (31).
But Michael Carberry hit a rapid 57 and Coles' assault helped Hampshire reach 168-5 with 15 balls to spare.
The win in their final group fixture gave the visitors a chance of home advantage in the quarter-finals as it lifted them into second place, two points ahead of Surrey - although they have two games still to play.
Essex, who had only lost two of their previous 12 matches, lost Jesse Ryder early, but posted what looked like a competitive total with some enterprising batting, despite Will Smith taking 3-17 for Hampshire.
Graham Napier added a final flourish to their innings with 17 off 12 balls and then trapped James Vince lbw with the first delivery of Hampshire's reply.
Carberry, however, was severe on anything loose, collecting four sixes and seven fours as he and Glenn Maxwell (25) shared a stand of 83 in 7.3 overs.
He eventually missed a slower ball from Ravi Bopara and was bowled, but Coles took the game away from Essex, with one mighty blow landing on the roof of flats overlooking the ground.
The former Kent player was dropped twice, the first a tremendous diving effort on the boundary by Ben Foakes, before finally perishing, but had already done enough to make the rest a formality.
Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara:
"We needed a total of 200 on that pitch and once we fell well short, it was always going to be difficult to contain them.
"We need our top-five batsmen there for 17 overs, but that never happened.
"Although we know we have a home tie in the quarter-finals, we need the momentum of victories and that makes it important we win our final match before going into the quarter-finals a week later."
Hampshire captain James Vince:
"We went into this game knowing we had to win to stand a chance of a home tie in the quarter-finals and the lads responded magnificently.
"On such a small ground, we took a bit of a gamble playing three spinners but they all rose to the occasion, particularly Will Smith.
"And then Michael Carberry and Matt Coles saw to it that their efforts were not wasted."