Cricket: Hampshire left one run short

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The Independent Online
Nottinghamshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .435 and 253-8 dec

Hampshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .403-6 dec and 285-8

Match drawn

AN innings of 111 by Robin Smith failed by one run to round off a wonderful day's cricket in the best possible manner for Hampshire.

Hampshire, set to score 286 in 60 overs by Nottinghamshire's excellent declaration, ended one run short. They take eight points as the side batting last in a match which ended with the scores level.

After Smith and Sean Morris had put on 144 for the second wicket in 36 overs, it looked Hampshire's match. Then, in the first 11 of the last 20 overs, the persevering Greg Mike removed Morris, Smith and Mark Nicholas. In the next over, Winston Benjamin heaved at Kevin Evans and was caught at deep mid-wicket.

Thirty-five were now needed from six overs with five wickets left. Shaun Udal was immediately caught and bowled off the front edge by Jimmy Adams but Adrian Aymes struck the ball well and darted furiously between the wickets with Raj Maru.

At 271 for 6, with 15 wanted from 16 balls, Aymes hooked and was caught at fine leg. The last three overs were extremely well bowled by Evans and Adams and, after Cardigan Connor had been yorked by Evans in the 18th over, 15 were needed from two overs and finally three from the last ball - which was one too many.

Both sides will have felt that they missed a great opportunity; Nottinghamshire not to have won and gone to the top of the table and Hampshire not to have won their first match on home soil since their first game of 1992, when Sussex were their opponents.

Without Chris Lewis, Nottinghamshire's bowling looked as if it was more likely to be concerned with events at the other end of the table. The biggest disappointment was the form of their spinners,

especially Andy Afford who, when he came on after tea, served up a constant diet of long hops and full tosses with his left-arm spin.

The pitch stood up much better than expected - Hampshire played two spinners, Nottinghamshire three - and the groundsman, Mike Grantham, deserved many congratulations for the two surfaces he produced during the week at May's Bounty. This one was full of runs and took spin late in the game, which is as it should be.

In the end, Nottinghamshire's chance of victory disappeared because their spinners were unable to make any use of the conditions. Their best was Adams, but Tim Robinson turned to him too late on the last day, although even then he had a part to play in making the match safe.