Cricket: Hampshire turn ahead

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire. .190 and 330-8

Hampshire. . . 294

WITH a lead of 104 after a low- scoring first innings Hampshire's understandable confidence of victory was gradually undermined yesterday by an spirited batting performance by the visitors.

Hampshire, who headed the championship for the first half of last season before failing to win a further game for a year, need no reminding that you can only get vertigo in high places. With the wicket getting easier though and a draw not figuring in the equation, Warwickshire will still be looking to the heavens for salvation whether by elemental intervention or an improbable stroke of luck.

For a short time, however, during the seventh wicket partnership of 78 between Trevor Penney and Neil Smith just such a reversal seemed possible. It took a stunningly acrobatic catch by Paul Terry at short mid-off to dismiss Smith and put a brake on Warwickshire's rising hopes.

Terry's catch gave the slow left- armer Darren Flint, playing in just his fourth game, his fourth wicket of the innings and his seventh in the match, as he and Shaun Udal, who took another four wickets at the other end, exploited the turn in the wicket.

After Andy Moles had given Warwickshire a bright start, only Dominic Ostler with a vigorous half-century proved his literacy in reading the turn of the ball, before Penney's admirably circumspect and dogged innings set up the possibility of a finish that will at least be closer than originally thought.