Welcome return to form for Dimi

Hampshire's Dimi Mascarenhas
Hampshire's Dimi Mascarenhas
Sarisbury are focused on improving their batting

Sarisbury focused on batting improvements

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Dimi Mascarenhas issued a reminder of his all-round ability as he struck his first Championship half-century in two years as Hampshire’s clash at Durham heads towards a draw.

With so much time lost in the game already because of rain in Chester-le-Street, there is little hope of today’s final day yielding anything other than a tame stalemate with Hampshire 230 for six at stumps last night in their first innings.

But aside from Neil McKenzie, who struck an impressive 90, Mascarenhas hit nine fours in his 66-ball 50 to show that he could yet return as a four-day force following his long battle with an Achilles injury.

Manager Giles White said: ‘Dimitri played very well and it was important for him.

‘He hasn’t played an awful lot of Championship cricket over the past couple of years but he showed us what he could do. It was a nice reminder of his all-round ability.

‘Hopefully he will have a good day with the ball. We will see if it’s his kind of wicket. You have to get the ball in the right areas and it’s something that Dimi is pretty good at.’

Mascarenhas has barely featured in the four-day game this season following his Achilles operation, but reached 50 in a first-class game for the first time since he hit 108 against Lancashire in 2009.

McKenzie made light of the tricky batting conditions, while wicketkeeper Michael Bates is closing in on his highest first-class core of 31 after making a disciplined 28 not out before bad light stopped play at 6pm last night.

With the game heading for an inevitable draw, White has ruled out making a game of it to force a result his side badly needs in their battle to avoid the drop.

He said: ‘We haven’t looked into it. We try to focus on what we’re doing and we wanted to bat well.

‘Had we played for four days, there would have been a result but nobody can do anything about the weather.

‘It’s been a frustrating three days. We obviously haven’t got as much cricket in as we would have liked.

‘But we’re 230 for six and we’ve played well because the wicket hasn’t been easy to bat on.

‘McKenzie played extremely well for his 90 and Bates showed what he could do at the end.

‘It’s been difficult. We’ve played and missed a fair bit. But it’s one of those wickets where if you get it in good areas, it’s tough but if you don’t hit those areas, it’s free-scoring.’

With the Friends Life t20 finals day just a couple of weeks away, there is an injury worry over batsman James Vince who had to retire hurt after suffering a back spasm, having reached 19.

But the club have announced that tickets will be on sale from the Rose Bowl and over the phone (0800 197 4404) from 9am on Monday and fans will be able to buy up to four each.

Tickets have been priced at £60 for adults and £21 for juniors (under 16).

Meanwhile, former England wicketkeeper James Foster – who was a transfer target for Hampshire – has signed a new three-year deal to stay at Essex.