Mean spell for Srinath

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire 389-3 dec

Nottinghamshire 300-8 dec

AT 5.30pm, the mainstay of the Nottinghamshire tail, Kevin Evans, steered his side past the follow-on mark of 240 and so thwarted Jack Russell's enterprising early-morning gamble of declaring at Gloucestershire's overnight score.

With Thursday washed out and the Neville Road wicket flat and well-mannered, it then seemed that we were to be dependent on the three-day contrivance of an agreed last afternoon target. But in the fourth over of a chilly morning Russell had begun to look like a master tactician, when Nottinghamshire's makeshift opener Paul Johnson prodded a ball into his stumps from bustling left-armer Mike Smith, who opened the home attack with India's Javagal Srinath.

On Friday Tony Wright and Dean Hodgson had posted a Gloucestershire record opening stand for the Championship, and yesterday morning opinion on the boundary was that the hosts should crack on to, say, 500 at lunch. Russell, however, was telling his bowlers to warm up.

Nottinghamshire are without injured Paul Pollard, Wayne Noon and Chris Lewis from their first-choice batting and Russell would have been aware of their tempting tail. But steady batting by Matthew Dowman and Graeme Archer saw Nottinghamshire serenely into the after lunch session.

Monte Lynch, late of Surrey, prompted the steady fall of afternoon wickets when he belied his years and took a full-stretch catch at ground level to remove Archer. This was just reward for Srinath, nursed by Russell through the day in three short, mean and increasingly productive spells.

Tim Robinson could not open the Nottinghamshire innings because he had left the field late on Friday for treatment on his back. When he batted in mid-afternoon it was with Chris Cairns, also nursing an injured back, and this somewhat creaking alliance could not last.

Although Evans and his evening partner Andy Hick rarely looked comfortable in their 64 stand, especially against the class of Srinath, they at last provided the stubborn adherence that Nottinghamshire needed. Robinson and Russell must now do their sums.

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