Somerset 202 for 4 (Babar 102*, Abell 57) beat Hampshire 69 for 6 (Taylor 2-12) by 63 runs (DLS method)
Babar Azam smashed his first Vitality Blast century, and highest career T20 score, to set up a crushing 63-run DLS win for Somerset over Hampshire. Pakistan star Babar is the leading run-scorer in the Blast and now has 425 runs in eight innings in the competition this season, 99 more than nearest rival D'Arcy Short.
Babar already had good memories of the Ageas Bowl, having struck 40 and 51 in ODIs on the ground and added to them with a remarkable 102 not out - which included seven fours and six maximums. The victory leaps Somerset above Hampshire into fifth, after consecutive wins, to boost their hopes of a knockout place.
James Vince won the toss and threw the ball to Chris Wood - and the seamer grabbed a wicket in his first over for the fourth time this season when Tom Banton was caught at mid-on. James Hildreth departed soon after when he clattered a cut to point to leave Somerset 37 for 2.
After two short rain delays, Babar and Tom Abell ramped up the scoring rate with a series of well-timed shots, with a smaller-than-usual Ageas Bowl outfield assisting them. Their 50 partnership came up in 34 balls, soon before Babar's square drive took him to his fourth half-century in the Blast, off 32 balls.
Abell followed Babar to the milestone, the first time he had reach 50 in T20 cricket, off 30-balls - reaching the landmark with back-to-back reverse sweeps to the boundary. He fell after a stand of 113, as did Eddie Byrom in the following over, but that simply spurred Babar on.
Babar had gone under the radar, preferring placement and skill to power but turned on the heat with his second fifty coming in just 23 balls. It was breathtaking batting with his maximums flying over deep midwicket, point, an incredible strike over cover and finally, off the last ball of the innings, a sweet strike over square leg to bring up three figures in the format for just the second time in his career.
That took Somerset to 202 for 4, and Hampshire's reply faltered in the second over as Tom Lammonby's direct hit ran out Rilee Rossouw. Wickets carried on falling at regular intervals thanks mainly to outrageous catches, courtesy of Max Waller, Banton and Roelof van der Merwe - somehow bettering each other with each attempt.
With Vince, Aneurin Donald, Liam Dawson, Chris Morris and Sam Northeast all gone, Hampshire's hopes of victory had all but died. And rain prevented further humiliation with eight overs and a ball to spare, with the hosts 63 adrift of the DLS score.