ESSEX Eagles made a barnstorming start to their One-Day Cup campaign with Tom Westley and Ashar Zaidi's explosive innings' guiding them to a 25 run victory over Hampshire.

Westley’s hard-hitting 93 off 98 balls helped set up Essex’s victory, while Zaidi struck 72 not out.

Westley shared partnerships of 103 with Alastair Cook for the second wicket and 60 with Varun Chopra for the third as Essex threatened at one stage to run riot.

But they were pegged back mid-innings and were grateful to Zaidi’s entertaining 40-ball 72 not out, which included four sixes, his highest One-Day Cup score for Essex, for taking their score beyond 300.

Behind the run-rate throughout, Hampshire were always in the game while James Vince (68) and George Bailey (67) were at the wicket in a stand of 91 for the third wicket. Once they departed Hampshire fell further adrift and finished 26 runs short.

It hadn’t started well for Essex, put in by Hampshire. Third ball, an inswinger from former favourite Reece Topley caught Nick Browne in no man’s land and bowled him.

Westley hit Topley out of the attack with three fours in four balls,his half-century coming off 45 balls.

Cook departed when he completely missed one from Liam Dawson, with Chopra reaching 26 before he nibbled at one from Abbot and was caught by a tumbling Lewis McManus.

Five balls later and Westley’s bludgeoning innings was over, caught magnificently at midwicket by Bailey off Dawson.

Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate were quickly dismissed before Adam Wheater and Zaidi's partnership of 42 for the seventh wicket steadied the innings.

Zaidi took Essex over the 300 mark with a spectacular exhibition of swashbuckling batting, reaching a 30-ball half-century with an unorthodox third maximum over third man. He added a fourth straight off Abbott, and also included seven fours his 72.

Hampshire’s chase started just as Essex’s had done - Michael Carberry edging Neil Wagner’s fifth ball onto his stumps.

Matt Quinn, back in the team, took the wicket of Tom Alsop and, while Vince and Bailey battled back, Essex still had a certain element of control.

Dawson gave support in a 55-run partnership before he was run out trying a single to Browne at wide mid-off. Next ball Wagner had Bailey caught behind and suddenly Hampshire had slipped from 182 for three to 182 for five with 17 overs left.

Hampshire needed 87 off 66 balls, 79 off 53 and 63 off 42, but Ervine lamped Quinn over midwicket for a six that brought up the fifty stand with McManus. But Ervine, the non-striker, was caught of his ground shortly after by ten Doeschate to make it six down for 242.

The Essex captain then claimed Gareth Berg to a caught-and-bowled and McManus to a catch on the long-leg boundary. Wagner wrapped things up with two wickets in two balls, having Abbott caught at long leg and Crane bowled to finish with four for 41.