Hampshire tied down

Cricket: NatWest Trophy
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The Independent Online

reports from Leicester

Hampshire 204-9 Leicestershire 204-9 Leics win on higher run-rate

A day that was otherwise low on excitement ended dramatically here yesterday when Leicestershire's last-wicket pair, Adrian Pierson and Alan Mullally, squeezed out 33 runs from 31 balls to give their side victory with the scores level, each side having lost nine wickets.

Once it had been established that Leicestershire would win by virtue of being ahead at the 30-over stage, Pierson, hemmed in by close fielders, calmly blocked out the last three balls from Rajesh Maru, who had been called up for the final over as a desperate last throw by Mark Nicholas.

The way that Mullally played and missed at Maru's first ball and survived a stumping appeal off the next before scrambling the single that levelled the scores contrasted with the comfort with which the tail-enders had picked up the ones and twos available on a vast outfield against Cardigan Connor and John Stephenson.

Connor, who had bowled superbly to remove three key Leicestershire batsmen in his first nine overs, lost his composure with 22 needed off four overs when, after warning Pierson for backing up too far, he bowled him an unnecessary bouncer which was a no-ball; that, plus two from the extra delivery, produced four precious runs.

This eased the pressure that had been built up by Hampshire's excellent out-cricket and allowed Leicestershire's injury-hit side to pull off a win that a series of mishaps looked like denying them.

These began when Ben Smith, given out caught off bat and pad, kicked the pavilion gate in dismay as he walked in, and continued when Darren Maddy was improbably caught by Paul Terry when he middled Connor's slower ball. Tim Mason was then run out by Connor's direct hit from some 50 yards away.

Hampshire suffered a disastrous morning in which Nicholas went first ball and Robin Smith, having run out Paul Whitaker, got himself out on the stroke of lunch, but no one - perhaps not even themselves - could have expected the composure of Leicestershire's last-wicket pair.