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Hampshire win by three wickets
AFTER looking firmly in control of their destiny for much of the day, Hampshire had only three wickets and five balls to spare when they defeated Durham in the Benson and Hedges Cup first round yesterday, largely due to the composure of their lower-order batsmen.
No one would be more relieved than David Gower, whose dismissal just before tea was a microcosm of so much of his career and must have done much to convince Durham that their 196 for 5 could be defended.
Ian Botham, who has taken more wickets with long hops than he cares to remember (or perhaps admit), presented Gower with a slow, lolly-popping sample which the batsman, who probably had time to select and reject three or four strokes, eventually mis-timed to a grateful David Graveney at mid-wicket.
With Mark Nicholas absent injured, that left Hampshire with little margin for error and with Durham's new overseas bowler, the Barbadian Anderson Cummins, performing with accuracy and life, even on this surface, much depended on Paul Terry seeing things through.
But he fell to Graveney's athletic catch in the gully with 18 needed from three overs and it was only when Cummins, having to change ends, and Simon Hughes conceded boundaries that had been few and far between that the pressure was eased and Shaun Udal and Adrian Aymes finished the job.
The game was governed by a slow, low pitch on which accurate bowling just short of length was not easily got away; it put a great premium on self-discipline, especially for the would-be stroke players, and the challenge was met by Wayne Larkins, whose unbeaten 110 made him Man of the Match, and Botham himself.
They made only 87 together in 21 overs, but the partnership was put together in the knowledge that Durham could not afford another lapse after losing Paul Parker and Phil Bainbridge. If Botham had not played on giving himself room against Cardigan Connor, it might have been enough.Reuse content