Zimbabwe boosted by Campbell

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe failed to claim a morale-boosting victory over Hampshire yesterday but left here delighted at the return to form of their key batsman Alistair Campbell.

Having given up the captaincy last November following a loss of form, Zimbabwe were concerned that one of their most reliable performers was arriving in England with little confidence. Campbell, however, excelled in the first glimpse of the sun this summer with an unbeaten 150 to help Zimbabwe secure a 233-run lead by declaring on 364 for 7.

Without the cloudy conditions, which helped Zimbabwe dismiss Hampshire for 131 on the opening day, they were unable to force a victory with their opponents reaching 234 for 4 to claim a draw. The tourists, though, will move on to Canterbury for Wednesday's second warm-up match confident that Campbell has rediscovered his fluency and rhythm in time for Zimbabwe's Test debut at Lord's on 18 May.

Resuming on 108, with Zimbabwe a comfortable 281 for 6, Campbell guided the 16-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Tatendu Taibu through a 94-run partnership and looked more assured with every stroke. He lost Taibu, whose excellent 36 bodes well for Zimbabwe, just one over before the declaration but finished with a flourish by driving the seamer Simon Francis back over his head for six to add to his 16 fours.

"It would have been nice to secure a win, but it was even better seeing Alistair bat like that again," the vice-captain Heath Streak said. "Alistair batted superbly in the warm-up matches in the West Indies but didn't get the runs in the Test matches, and I thought he moved better and used the crease much better in this match than I've seen for some time."

Faced with needing to bat 69 overs to prevent defeat, Hampshire were given a solid start, with the openers Giles White and Jason Laney forging an 86-run partnership. Laney, in particular, played aggressively and greeted the arrival of the seamer Mpumelelo Mbangwa by pulling his first two deliveries to the boundary. Mbangwa made amends by making the breakthrough with the last delivery of his third over, cutting the ball back and clipping White's off-stump after he shouldered arms having made 28.

Hampshire were still in a comfortable position but Laney, on 44, drove wildly at the next ball from Guy Whittall and picked out Trevor Gripper at cover. At 86 for 2, with 39 overs remaining before the close, Hampshire were facing the prospect of defeat, but the captain Robin Smith and Will Kendall forged a 123-run stand in 31 overs to secure the draw.