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Lancashire victory bid frustrated by rain delay

Lancashire victory bid frustrated by rain delay

Rain throughout the afternoon has frustrated Lancashire's bid for a second Specsavers County Championship victory with Hampshire closing this third day on 76-2, still 271 runs behind.

The visitors resumed on 22-1 in their second innings still requiring a further 325 runs to avoid an innings defeat with two days remaining, but only 33 overs were possible today-all before lunch.

It only took 11 deliveries before Lancashire made a breakthrough in the morning.

Michael Carberry got a big edge to a James Anderson delivery that was brilliantly taken by Alex Davies diving away to his left, to depart for 16 with the score 24-2.

James Vince drove Anderson beautifully through cover for four soon afterwards but it was the only boundary struck in the first 45 minutes of the day as the Hampshire batsmen’s main intent was one of survival.

Will Smith took 43 balls to get off the mark with a single to fine leg, epitomising the visitors’ approach and determination to occupy the crease.

Once settled Vince started to open up and with Lancashire setting attacking fields, the scoring rate picked up, albeit slowly.

Neil Wagner produced a great, combative, spell in the 30 minutes before lunch in an attempt to unsettle two batsmen who had started to look increasingly comfortable.

The left-arm paceman produced a terrific bouncer that had Vince scrambling backwards, and he then struck Smith when the batsman rather ducked into a rising delivery. Smith also fended a couple of balls from Wagner that just evaded silly mid-on and short leg.

Just before lunch Vince was a touch fortunate when top edging a short delivery from the New Zealander for six although it landed just over the ropes with Alviro Petersen waiting at fine leg. It also brought up the 50 partnership which had taken nearly 29 overs to compile.

It was a resolute effort by the Hampshire pair who survived to reach the interval on 76-2 still 271 behind, but unfortunately for Lancashire rain prevented any resumption after the break with play finally abandoned for the day at 5.45pm.

Afterwards Steven Croft admitted it had been a frustrating day on and off the field.

“We started well this morning and probably deserved more than one wicket,” he said. “We seem to have dominated every session we’ve had so far this season and it was frustrating we couldn’t get out there this afternoon.

Reflecting on the start to the season, Lancashire’s skipper is pleased with his side’s progress so far saying: “We've gone back to basics really, bowling at the top of off stump and bowling tight. Batting-wise we are batting in partnerships and batting long.

“It’s gone all to plan so far and it’s been a great team effort. It’s not been a case of one bowler getting all the wickets and one batsman getting most of the runs.

“This is the last game where we will have Jimmy (Anderson) so someone is going to have to step up. The bowling has been great. It’s not been one or two of them; it’s been the whole attack. When you’ve got four seamers going well and the opposition going nowhere something has to give and it did on the first morning.

“I was delighted for Luke (Procter) getting his hundred yesterday, especially at Old Trafford. It was his first one here and something he won’t forget.

“We’ve had some good solid performances with the bat and getting big runs is important. Everyone is chipping in from top (of the order) to bottom.

“So it was frustrating today but there’s nothing we can do about it.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final day Croft added: “We are really confident we can get the win. I don’t think much will be changing from what we have been doing. We try to create a lot of pressure and get wickets that way. If it comes to it, we might have to be more attacking at some stage but we are confident we can get eight wickets in hopefully three full sessions."

Ken Grime

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