Somerset keep eyes on prize despite draw

Hampshire 284 & 224-4 Somerset 412 <i>(Match drawn)</i>
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The Independent Online

Somerset's season remains ripe with possibility. Semi-finalists in the Friends Provident Twenty20, top of their group in the Clydesdale Bank 40, they are now second in the Championship, although their pleasure at overtaking Yorkshire is diluted a little by the knowledge that Nottinghamshire, who lead by two points, have a match in hand.

But for the weather, they would surely have the lead themselves, given that they were up against a Hampshire side reduced to seven fit players and one walking wounded.

In the event, on a pitch that did not offer the help to their spinners they had hoped for, the 87 overs left when Hampshire began their second innings 128 runs behind was not enough to take 10 wickets and knock off any remaining shortfall. The visitors were 96 in front and four wickets down when handshakes were exchanged.

Hampshire's draw boosts their survival prospects, but injuries are a concern ahead of tomorrow's Twenty20 Finals Day. Definitely out is Michael Lumb, who played a key role in England's World Twenty20 triumph in May but now has a broken foot – inflicted somewhat ironically by his England opening partner, Craig Kieswetter, when he was fielding at silly point on Wednesday. There are worries, too, over Sean Ervine and veteran captain Dominic Cork, both of whom have back injuries. Another scare came yesterday when Dan Christian, their Aussie all-rounder, was struck in the face by a short ball from Zander de Bruyn.

The ball hit him under the peak of his helmet and as blood poured from Christian's nose and from a gash above it, Cork appeared on the Hants balcony waving a white sheet of surrender.

But Christian, on two at the time, continued after the wounds had been patched. He made 36 in a stand of 55 with Neil McKenzie (60), who had also anchored a third-wicket partnership with James Vince worth 85 as Somerset toiled for inroads in vain.

Crisis or no crisis, there seems no prospect of Hampshire holding out an olive branch to Kevin Pietersen for T20 Finals Day. "It has not been discussed," the coach, Giles White, said last night.

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