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Royals start title defence with impressive victory

The Hampshire Royals got their Friends Life t20 title defence off to an impressive start thanks to an easy 7 wicket victory against the Somerset Sabres in a repeat of last years final at the Rose Bowl.

Michael Lumb led the way, scoring 53 runs from just 33 deliveries to help the Royals return to zero points in the Southern Group after they received two point penalty for a sub standard pitch during last years tournament, coincidently against the Sabres.

The Royals got off to a great start thanks to Dimitri Mascarenhas, who picked up three early wickets in his first t20 game for the home side after spending more then a year out with an Archilles injury to leave the Sabres 37-3 after just 5.1 overs who reached a total of 145-7 thanks to a fine half century from Peter Trego.

Faced with a run chase of 146, Lumb and Jimmy Adams got the Royals innings off to a fantastic start as they scored 58 runs during the power play overs to put the Sabres under pressure early on.

Lumb lead the way, smashing five boundaries and two sixes on his return to the Rose Bowl after spending the last two months in India playing for the Deccan Chargers during the recent Indian Premier League.

The 31 year old completed a impressive half century from just 29 deliveries during an opening stand of 90 which was ended by Trego in the 10 th over when he dismissed Lumb.

Adams (39) quickly followed after he was bowled by Murali Kartik in the 13th over but the Royals remained in control of the game thanks to James Vince (31) and Neil McKenzie (17) who steered the home side home during a 3rd wicket stand of 44 to give the defending champions the perfect start to their title defence.

Although Vince was bowled by Trego when the scores were tied, the Royals completed an easy victory after Trego bowled a wide two deliveries later to end a perfect day for the Royals after Mascarenhas tore through the Sabres top order after Marcus Trescothick won the toss and elected to bat first.

The skipper was the first to go thanks to Neil McKenzie who pulled off a great diving catch in the slips to end Trescothick's (2) involvement in the game having faced just 6 deliveries.

Roelof van der Merwe (15) quickly followed when he was bowled at the end of the 4th over before Mascarenhas completed his amazing start by dismissing James Hildreth (2) who was caught by wicket keeper Nic Pothas.

Despite the early setback for the Sabres, Trego (55) remained at the crease and the opener blasted a vital half century from just 30 deliveries during a 4th wicket stand of 63 with Nick Compton to lead the visitors recover.

The 29 year old scored four boundaries and three sixes during 37 ball innings which was brought to an end by James Vince who pulled out a brilliant diving catch out on the long on boundary to give Royals skipper Dominic Cork the vital break through at the end of the 14the over to leave the Sabres 100-4.

Jos Buttler (13) quickly followed before Compton's (37) cameo was brought to an end by Cork in the penultimate over thanks to another great diving catch by Vince, this time at deep fine leg to leave the Sabres 136-6.

Lewis Gregory added just 2 runs before Arul Suppiah (7) and Murali Kartik (1) saw out the final two deliveries of the match to help the Sabres reach a below par total of 145-7 to leave the Royals well placed to start their title defence with a victory.

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