Warne made to wait as Nixon shows resilience

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The Independent Online

The least that could have happened after more than 36 hours on the go since leaving Australia would have been for Shane Warne to have reached his half-century of championship wickets. It was not to be.

The least that could have happened after more than 36 hours on the go since leaving Australia would have been for Shane Warne to have reached his half-century of championship wickets. It was not to be.

In typical contrary fashion Kent's batsmen, in particular Paul Nixon, who had mustered a meagre 11 bonus points in their 13 previous championship matches, belatedly found some steel to deny Hampshire's leg-spinner that landmark. But at least Warne's commitment was not in doubt.

He had left Australia at 4.30am BST on Monday. On arrival in Hong Kong 10 hours later he discovered his flight would be be delayed by two and a half hours, so he transferred to an earlier Cathay Pacific flight, which landed at Heathrow at 6.20am yesterday.

By 9.0am he was tucking into toast in the players' dining room here. Three hours later he was in action, keen to add to his 46 wickets. The first of his three victims was claimed at around midday with his fifth ball, Ed Smith falling lbw after playing for spin to a ball that was not there.

It was early on in his second spell in mid-afternoon that he picked up his other two wickets and he went on to bowl 19 overs either side of tea.

Unfortunately he could not find a way past Nixon's bat, the Kent wicketkeeper even going so far as to take two sixes off the Australian.

But Warne was not the only one performing heroics for Hampshire. Alan Mullally, showing no signs of the thigh strain which had forced him out of contention for a Test place last week, maintained his remarkable run of form, picking up his fourth five-wicket haul in his last five championship innings and ensuring Hampshire maintain their record of securing maximum bowling points in every championship match this season

Robert Key was first to go, superbly taken by wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes, who flung himself far to his right. The other opener, David Fulton, also departed in Mullally's opening stint, lbw. With Rahul Dravid playing on to Mullally shortly before lunch, Kent were in an unpromising position.

Not even a gritty innings from Matthew Walker could dispel home fears of a third innings without a single batting point. Nixon, though, had other ideas.

He cudgelled, bludgeoned, nudged and poked his way to his highest score for Kent, a tantalising eight runs away from his 12th first-class century, and through prudent marshalling of the last man, David Masters, made certain that the last-wicket pair earned Kent the rarity of two batting points.

In a desperate bid to end the innings Warne was called back in the action to bowl the last overs of the day, in vain.

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