Hampshire 271 Kent 195-7: Warne's bout of canny spin leaves Kent on the ropes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Canny captaincy and cunning spin-bowling are the hallmarks of Shane Warne. His stamp has certainly been left on Kent's stuttering reply as he ensured that Hampshire wrested control of this match from their opponents. The disciplined attack had Kent in trouble from the second ball of their reply when opener David Fulton edged a James Bruce delivery to Warne at slip.

Wickets then fell at crucial intervals. By late afternoon Kent were on the ropes, a wicked one-two from Sean Ervine in his opening two overs to account for Matthew Walker and Darren Stevens inflicting serious damage.

When Justin Kemp was bowled round his legs by Warne and wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien fell to the same bowler, the dazed visitors were staggering around the ring. Only a gutsy knock from Andrew Hall kept them in it.

It was quite a contrast to the start of the day, when the outlook for a sizeable Hampshire first innings total had looked as bleak as the weather forecast. That they ended up with two bonus points was down to the stubbornness of Hampshire wicketkeeper Nic Pothas, who combined studious defence of his own wicket with diligent protection of his last two partners.

James Bruce contributed 17 useful runs to the ninth wicket partnership of 75 and was eventually undone by a spinner, Min Patel knocking out his middle stump. But by now Pothas, who is in a rich vein of form, could see the possibility of a second championship hundred in three matches.

He carefully eschewed inviting singles and twos as he attempted to shield last man Billy Taylor from the most dangerous of the Kent armoury and his, and Hampshire's, score crept up. But a change of batting gloves, presumably accompanied by a message to get on with it, saw a sea change in approach.

Pothas lofted Robbie Joseph over long-on for six but an attempted repetition to reach three figures saw him hole out to Darren Stevens, which went a long way to keeping Hampshire on target for victory.