Hampshire indulge in war of attrition

Hampshire 274 Warwickshire 192
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The Independent Online
Some of those who favour a two-division County Championship have written off Hampshire as second rate, but the notion that Warwickshire would sweep them aside as effortlessly as they saw off Sussex a week ago turned out to be misplaced on a second day of grimly attritional cricket here.

By the end of a gloomy evening the champions had been bowled out for 192, leaving them 82 in arrears on first innings, and the Hampshire batsmen once suspected of under-achievement had put their side in a strong position.

On a pitch with little pace and negligible bounce, fluent stroke play was almost impossible to sustain as a succession of Hampshire batsmen had discovered as they struggled in vain to progress beyond the 20s. If anything, Warwickshire found conditions to be more testing yesterday, Hampshire's bowlers achieving more than they did in terms of sideways movement, in particular Cardigan Connor, their 35-year-old seamer, whose labours were rewarded with five wickets.

Connor's first over set Warwickshire on an unpromising footing, accounting for Nick Knight and Dominic Ostler in the space of three deliveries, both of which seemed to keep low. Ostler contributed to his own downfall, though, by failing to offer a shot to a ball that neatly removed his off stump.

Warwickshire never fancied themselves to get on top after that and Wasim Khan, who had witnessed the setbacks from the non-striker's end, took 34 minutes to score his first run. Never comfortable, he became a first victim for Rajesh Maru, who would probably not have played had Shaun Udal been fit but found himself instead employed not only as principal spin bowler but acting captain, too, with Robin Smith nursing a finger injury that rules him out of consideration for England's Texaco Trophy squad.

Trevor Penney imposed himself rather more effectively but his dismissal soon after lunch, to another that Connor nipped back, came as the first of three that were fundamental in Hampshire's success, each snuffing out an innings that might have tipped the balance in Warwickshire's favour. Shaun Pollock, who accumulated seven boundaries at a brisk rate, looked most likely to do that before hitting one straight to point.

Dermot Reeve knew better than to take risks, presenting a frustrating defence that spanned almost three hours, but once he and a somewhat wasteful Neil Smith had gone, the others had to salvage what they could.

Robin Smith, meanwhile, was waiting for confirmation of a suspected broken right index finger suffered while batting against Pollock on Thursday.