Mullaney makes depleted Hampshire pay for a second time

Nottinghamshire 270 Hampshire 23-1
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The Independent Online

No pre-season forecast has looked dafter than the proposition that Hampshire might be a competitive force so restricting the Championship leaders to 270 here might be regarded as a bonus for an already-depleted side hit by a further enforced absence.

With Dimitri Mascarenhas still injured, Simon Jones not yet able to start, Kabir Ali sidelined by a dodgy knee and no sign yet of Ajantha Mendis, their bowling resources are thin. In addition, a batting line-up already deprived of Michael Lumb (and, technically, Kevin Pietersen) because of England's World Twenty20 stay, now has to manage without Michael Carberry, who will play for England Lions tomorrow instead.

After four defeats out of five matches in the Championship – four out of the four in the 40-over competition – they had better hope their Twenty20 plans come off. Elsewhere the season looks a lost cause.

Yet they will feel they ought to have done better yesterday after asking Nottinghamshire to bat first on a grassy surface prepared in accordance with their own desire to play home matches on "result" pitches.

Given that Nottinghamshire are also short of batting – Hashim Amla is back with South Africa, Mark Wagh is sitting law exams and David Hussey does not start until next month – it looked like the right decision, more so when the home side's fragile upper order let them down again.

As Dominic Cork and James Tomlinson made the conditions work in their favour, finding movement off the pitch as well as the usual measure of Trent Bridge swing, Nottinghamshire stumbled to 29-4. Neil Edwards and Samit Patel both offered catches to Nic Pothas behind the stumps, the second requiring a dive in front of first slip, Alex Hales fell to an inswinger without scoring and Bilal Shafayat edged to first slip.

But Nottinghamshire are as well used to such predicaments as are Hampshire to letting opportunities slip and the next 80 minutes or so must have seemed familiar to both as Steven Mullaney and Ali Brown put on 78 in 16 overs before Brown stepped into an inswinger from David Balcombe.

Mullaney, the former Lancashire all-rounder, made a century in his first-class debut for his new employers at the Rose Bowl two weeks ago and almost repeated the feat yesterday, failing three short when what had been a chancey innings – he was dropped on 50 – ended with Pothas snapping up a catch from an edged cut shot.

Tomlinson ended with a well-deserved 5-66 after bowling solidly all day but Paul Franks added an unbeaten 57 before Hampshire lost Liam Dawson in reaching 23-1 at the close.