Hampshire 186-8 v Kent: Hampshire falter as Key's men ride the tide

There was only one team in it for the best part of two sessions yesterday, and that was the head groundsman, Nigel Gray, and his men, who worked like demons to make play possible.

Torrential overnight rain transformed the outfield into something more akin to a Japanese water garden, and so fierce was the downpour that it had even managed to penetrate the covers on the crease at the North End.

One dedicated member of the ground staff spent the best part of four hours working a hot air blower over the sodden patch. It paid off because play resumed in mid-afternoon, with the loss of 61 overs in the day and 136 in the match thus far.

After losing two wickets either side of tea, Hampshire might have been left regretting all that hard work. Kent have certainly taken a firm grip on this match. Their captain, Robert Key, resumed the attack with the modest-paced Darren Stevens from the North End, perhaps because the softness of the soil might have proved hazardous to a faster bowler in his delivery stride.

It was Stevens who proved hazardous to the batsmen - his fourth over saw Shaun Ervine playing across the line and falling lbw. The introduction of the pace bowler Robbie Joseph straight after tea earned Kent their sixth wicket, the valuable one of John Crawley. He had arrived at the fall of the second wicket in the fourth over of the innings on the first day. His concentration had been admirable, given the number of interruptions he had to suffer as play dribbled into the second day.

By the time he fell he had been at the crease for some three hours, vainly trying to resist the Kent tide, but eventually he succumbed when the Antigua-born Joseph drew him forward and had the rock of the Hampshire innings caught behind.

Only Dimitri Mascarenhas showed any compunction to attack, his 37-ball innings certainly livened up proceedings and allowed Nic Pothas to dig in and ease them nearer a batting point.

* A superb opening spell from Middlesex's Chad Keegan ensured his team finished strongly on the second day of the Championship match against Warwickshire at Lord's after they had scored 520 for 9 declared in the first innings. Keegan took the wickets of Nick Knight, Mark Wagh and Ian Bell, as Warwickshire ended on 98 for 3. They need a further 273 to avoid the follow-on.

* Sourav Ganguly has joined Northamptonshire on a short-term deal after Chris Rogers was picked for Australia A. The former India captain is available from 25 June, when Northamptonshire play Nottinghamshire in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy.

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