Rain and Ravi end Hants' hopes

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Dominic Cork

A stand of 97 between Nic Pothas and Dominic Cork, pictured, put Hampshire into a winning position but rain ended their hopes

Rain denied Hampshire the chance to beat Essex in the LV= County Championship after Ravi Bopara had lifted his team out of trouble at the Rose Bowl.

Chasing a victory target of 328 in 75 overs, Essex were a perilous 16 for four until Bopara took control.

In the end, the England man made 61 and Essex moved to 99 for six before the rain came with 24 overs remaining to spare them further loss.

Hampshire began the day 235 for six in their second innings, captain Nic Pothas and Dominic Cork putting their team in a powerful position with a stand of 97 for the seventh wicket as Pothas completed a resolute 59.

Pothas hit eight boundaries before calling in his players at 311 for seven in order to set Essex a tempting target.

Maurice Chambers and Bopara each took two wickets but Essex were always struggling to contain the Hampshire batsman among whom veteran all-rounder Cork finished 41 not out at the declaration.

Essex could not entertain any hope of a win of their own after a miserable start.

Opener Tom Westley was bowled by James Tomlinson for one in the second over and in the next Cork knocked back Jaik Mickleburgh's off stump.

Essex slumped further when Matt Walker, who made 99 in the first innings, was caught in the slips off David Balcombe for three.

And even worse was to follow two balls later when Ryan ten Doeschate was leg before to the same bowler.

Only then did Bopara, showing his international pedigree, begin the recovery in a stand of 66 for the firth wicket with James Foster.

Bopara reached an imperious half century which he celebrated with a six off spinner Danny Briggs.

But soon afterwards Briggs had his revenge when he trapped Bopara for 61 with a delivery which kept low.

Hampshire could sense victory at 99 when Foster, who had been dropped in the slips when seven, edged Sean Ervine into the same area where this time Jimmy Adams held the catch.

Mark Pettini and Graham Napier was standing firm when rain intervened with Essex still 229 behind and facing a difficult task to avoid defeat.

Hampshire had to be content with eight points and Essex claimed the same as the Championship reached the halfway stage in the competition.

Balcombe finished as Hampshire's most successful bowler with 2-14 and there was a wicket each for Cork, Tomlinson, Ervine and Briggs but Hampshire were unable to fashion a second win of the season.

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