Weather Frustrates Steelbacks

pic

Heavy rain at the interval washed out Hampshire's Group A match against Northamptonshire Steelbacks at the Ageas Bowl, ruining the efforts of pace pair Muhammad Azhar Ullah and Maurice Chambers who took eight wickets between them.

The award of a consolatory one point each does nothing for either side who need superb runs of form over the remainder of the campaign to stand any chance of qualifying for the latter stages.

Hampshire and the Steelbacks have each won only once so far.

Home captain Jimmy Adams chose to bat first in bright sunshine but with rain forecast, had no hesitation in having first use of what proved to be a reliable and sound wicket.

Racing to 189 for three in the 37th over, Hampshire then suffered what is becoming a customary middle-order collapse against the tight control exerted by Chambers and Azhar Ullah, who returned 3-47 and 5-38 respectively. They duly lost their last seven wickets for 60 to be all out for 249 with eight balls remaining of their allocation.

The Steelbacks would have been asked to score at exactly five an over and must surely have fancied their chances. But then came the rain and the Steelbacks never got the chance to begin their reply.

Both sides were weakened. James Vince of Hampshire and Northants’ David Willey were on international duty with England Lions while Michael Bates was restored to the Hampshire wicketkeeper role in the absence of the suspended Adam Wheater.

Hampshire began confidently and with aggression as Michael Carberry and Sean Terry put on 45 for the first wicket until the former pulled Andrew Hall to deep midwicket where Graeme White held the catch.

Azhar Ullah, whose figures were his best in List-A matches, struck for the first time at 73 when Adams was leg before but Terry, in only his second appearance of any kind this season, reached his half-century with a six off White only to fall in the same over to a catch in the deep by Matt Spriegel for 53.

Even then Hampshire showed no signs of being inhibited as Will Smith and Sean Ervine put on 64 for the fourth wicket in 11.4 overs before the match was turned on its head. Smith, who had struck only three fours in his side's top-score of 59, lifted Chambers to Stephen Peters at 189 and Hampshire fell away in dispiriting fashion for their supporters.

Azhar Ullah came back to see off Ervine and the luckless Bates went in the same over without scoring. The seamer also sent back Matt Coles and Chambers accounted for Chris Wood and Liam Dawson before last pair Danny Briggs and James Tomlinson added 12 precious runs to make the final Hampshire total respectable but nowhere near as formidable as it had threatened to be. Chambers' figures left the Steelbacks satisfied they could overhaul a target of five an over, as their coach David Ripley pointed out.

Ripley said: "It is a shame we did not get the chance to convert our position at half-time into a win. At the interval I thought we were favourites.

''Hampshire were under-par with the score they got on what was essentially a good wicket. From the power-play situation, we had fought back and bowled and fielded well.

''Had the rain not come down I would have backed us to get the runs.''

Weather Frustrates Steelbacks www.northantscricket.com
title