Nicholas is bounced out

Kent 207 and 288 Hampshire 137 and 319 Kent won by 39 runs
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The Independent Online
TO AVOID the threat of losing their first three Championship games, Hampshire needed a big innings around which their progress towards a distant 359 could be built. There was nothing in the appearance or the behaviour of the Southampton pitch to explain the fall of 30 wickets by Friday evening, but the target looked mighty compared to the home side's first- innings 137.

As the day progressed it was clear that Kent's bowlers would have to earn their wickets, because the pitch had dropped off to sleep and Hampshire had two days to potter along collecting their runs.

Paul Terry and Sean Morris went to work cautiously, and in spite of some hazy playing and missing they inched through the first hour at two an over. But progress was halted when each, in turn, waved the bat around a straight ball from the persevering Alan Igglesden.

John Stephenson, newly arrived from Essex, has yet to find any batting form this year, and his eight runs took 26 overs to scratch together. By this time the Sri Lankan Aravinda De Silva, Carl Hooper's replacement at Canterbury, was wheeling out his swift off breaks, and persuaded the unhappy Stephenson into a simple bat-and-pad catch.

Robin Smith's entry had already triggered the first spin of the day from the left-armer Min Patel, and though Smith biffed his third ball to the cover boundary he, too, was far from his brilliant self. A juggling gully catch by De Silva ended his innings shortly after lunch, and the Hampshire chase had stuttered to a halt.

It was revived by the skipper, Mark Nicholas, in partnership with the solid Giles White, who first played for Hampshire last year having failed to make headway at Somerset.

They passed 50 together before the brisk Martin McCague bounced one at Nicholas that the batsman blindly fielded on the back of his helmet. He tottered around the field for a while before being assisted to the dressing-room.

When Nicholas returned Adrian Aymes was well established having punched out a stand with the Zimbabwean Heath Streak, and Hampshire continued their unlikely advance. Aymes, who is naturally a belligerent batsman, spent 130 balls over a half- century that mightily frustrated the Kent bowlers, and when Dean Headley dismissed Cardigan Connor and James Bovill with successive balls, there was just one more possible delivery left in the day's play. That big innings had eluded Hampshire, and they have still to stretch a Championship match into Monday this year.

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