Wet weather hampers Derbyshire

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Derbyshire’s promotion push was delayed by afternoon rain, which prevented play after lunch on day two with Hampshire at the County Ground.

The Division Two front-runners, who narrowly led Yorkshire and Kent at the start of this last round of LV= County Championship games, yesterday gained maximum bowling points by dismissing their opponents for 272 inside 76 overs but then slipped to 50 for three at stumps.

Nightwatchman Tony Palladino and Usman Khawaja fought back this morning with an 88-run alliance, dominated by the former whose fourth first-class fifty occupied 63 balls.

Australia batsman Khawaja reached a half-century from 100 deliveries before Sean Ervine snared Palladino for 58. Ervine cheaply removed Dan Redfern, but alongside Ross Whiteley Khawaja reached lunch with 71 of 167 for five - a deficit of 105.

Unfortunately for the hosts, rain began to fall just as the afternoon session was due to begin and did not abate with play called off shortly after 4pm. By then, Yorkshire had gained sufficient bonus points to go top of the table but Kent being forced to follow on at Cardiff favoured both their promotion-chasing rivals.

Home captain Wayne Madsen said: “We would have liked to have batted most of the afternoon.

“It is frustrating for us to take time out of the game. But saying that there were some decent signs with the ball looking like it’s starting to spin, which brings our spinners into play for the next innings, and also the fact that the weather’s meant to be set quite fair for the next couple of days so we should be able to get a good couple of days in.

“We’re still optimistic. We’re in a decent position. If we can kick on and get to them if not past them, we should be in quite a strong position.”

Derbyshire rain

Only the morning session was possible at the County Ground where Derbyshire trail by 105 with five first-innings wickets left

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Madsen added: “The key is to make sure you get through the first half-an-hour, hour batting-wise in the morning when it might do a little bit.

“The fact also that the ball’s slightly older now may assist us a little bit and also that we’ve got Usman at the crease still because he’s playing a fantastic innings at the moment. It’s going to be important to have him there after the first half-an-hour, hour tomorrow.”

Madsen hailed Palladino, who made a second key contribution after his three early wickets yesterday.

“He hit the ball sweetly; he really did time it well,” he said. “And that’s what we wanted from him, to be nice and positive, to try and get the scoreboard going, and he was able to do that for us, which was fantastic.”

Like at the beginning of the innings, James Tomlinson and David Balcombe initially beat the bat with regularity under sunny skies.

However, Khawaja and Palladino soon got in on a still good batting wicket, forcing a double bowling change.

Palladino, whose maiden first-class ton versus Australian A in July was also as nightwatchman, greeted Chris Wood with two mighty pulled sixes and twice drove him down the ground for four, the second to bring up the fifty partnership and Derbyshire’s hundred.

The right-hander pulled David Griffith’s first ball to the boundary to overtake Khawaja and, following a brief calm period, straight-drove Wood for four to reach his landmark.

With both replacement seamers proving expensive, Liam Dawson’s spin was introduced. He bowled tightly but Khawaja emphatically pulled Ervine for four to herald his fifty. Later in the over Palladino chipped to mid-on as cloud cover rolled in to favour the seam bowlers.

Dawson threatened in a maiden and held a fine low catch in the next at second slip to account for the unconvincing Redfern. Dawson then had a close lbw shout against Khawaja, on 59, turned down with the ball just hitting outside the line. The batsman responded by powerfully driving the left-armer for four and six.

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