Pothas holds fast to stifle Kent's whiff of victory

Kent 446 & 185 Hampshire 325 & 241-8, Match drawn
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That certainly appeared to be the case here yesterday where the leaders Kent, looking desperate from the early morning to secure victory and consolidate their position in the First Division, came within a whisker of pulling it off.

Hampshire in contrast, although they did begin the chase with positive intent, after losing a couple of key wickets just before tea, appeared to lose their nerve as well and subsequently made it quite clear that the target of 307 was beyond their dreams and indeed their desires.

But that attitude can be fatal for a team, and the loss of three key wickets - Shane Watson, Jono McLean and Andy Bichel - in four overs after the interval certainly rattled the home team.

The Kent pace bowlers, Simon Cook, Andrew Hall, Amjad Khan and Justin Kemp, having tasted blood and with a strong whiff of victory up their nostrils went full tilt at the remaining batsmen.

Sean Ervine had been as resolute as he had been first time around and repeated his feat of passing 50, while later in the innings Nic Pothas once more clung to his wicket. The Hampshire wicketkeeper did offer one chance when he was on eight, which provided a comical moment (for onlookers and Hampshire fans, if not for Kent) when he edged Khan to third slip where Kemp palmed the ball up and behind him.

The Kent captain David Fulton, running around from first slip, batted a hand at the ball once, twice, then sprawled after it and got fingertips to it before it hit the deck.

But had Pothas departed that probably would have been curtains for Hampshire. As it was they still lost Dimitri Mascarenhas at the death, but thankfully Pothas and Shaun Udal held on through the drama and tension of the three final overs.

In the morning Hampshire had done well to polish off the Kent second innings as quickly as they did, especially since they were hampered by the loss of the fast bowler Chris Tremlett, who had pulled out of the attack after one over during the day before with a knee injury that has troubled him since May and which is being treated by cortisone injections.

It was only thanks to the all-rounder Hall's contribution that Kent were able to nudge the target as high as they did.