Ali and co can’t land knock-out punch

Kabir Ali took two wickets on day one at Gloucestershire
Kabir Ali took two wickets on day one at Gloucestershire
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Kabir Ali admitted to a tinge of disappointment that Hampshire did not make the most of their fast start in their Championship division two clash at Gloucestershire.

The recalled fast bowler got the nod to replace Danny Briggs for the match at Bristol as a green pitch was deemed to suit Ali more than the left-arm spinner.

The former Worcestershire man struck an early blow on day one to claim the first of two scalps to remove former Hampshire batsman Benny Howell.

But the visitors were not quite able to finish the job as Gloucestershire reached stumps on 265 for eight.

Ali, who ended with figures of two for 64, said: ‘It wasn’t a bad day for us. If we’d had a little bit of luck, we could have bowled them out more cheaply.

‘But we’ve got them eight down now and hopefully we can pick up a couple of early wickets on day two.

‘We had them 49 for three at one stage, but you can look into it too deeply sometimes. Things didn’t quite work out but we’re quite happy.

‘They are allowed to play well and they are good players, to be honest.’

Ali was one of two changes to Hampshire’s side who scraped a draw with Kent last time out as fit-again Neil McKenzie recovered from his hamstring strain to replace James Vince.

And after he made an early breakthrough, Gloucestershire then looked in trouble at 49 for three and 85 for four as David Balcombe (two for 55) also prospered.

But Dan Housego (51) dug in before Hamish Marshall (75) and Ian Cockbain (51) then put on a stand of 125 for the fifth wicket to frustrate Hampshire.

The visitors also had to cope with the loss of Dimi Mascarenhas, who left the field with what appeared to be a back injury during the afternoon session.

But the bowling attack responded late in the day with some useful wickets that probably just edged them ahead, although Ali suggested the decision to bowl first had perhaps not paid off as much as they would have liked.

Ali said: ‘The wicket was green and we were hoping it would do a little bit more than it did, but the ball was swinging in the evening and we picked up a few wickets.

‘We’ve had so much rain that the wickets are not as quick as we would like them.

‘When the ball does move, the good players can adjust.

‘But I thought we bowled pretty well as a unit and with a bit more luck we could have bowled them out.’

While Ali has missed the past two Championship games, he insists he is fit and raring to go and has no issues with some lengthy spells that saw him bowl 19 overs, with Mascarenhas able to get through only 12.

Ali said: ‘It was good. I’ve been bowling well this season for a while now.

‘I was a bit disappointed I didn’t play the past couple of games, but they will pick the best 11.

‘So it was good to be back.

‘I like bowling so why not bowl a lot of overs?

‘The body feels good, I’ll get some rest, get an ice pack or two and hopefully we can bowl them out quickly on day two.’