Warwickshire v Hampshire: Ian Bell's half-century leaves Hants in relegation danger

Ian Bell
Ian Bell passed 50 for the fifth time in 13 Championship games in 2017 to end the season on 599 runs at an average of 25.91
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Edgbaston (day three):
Warwickshire 188: Sibley 92*; Edwards 5-49 & 186: Bell 77*, Berg 3-40
Hampshire 116: Bailey 55; Hannon-Dalby 4-29 & 20-1
Hampshire need 239 more runs to win with nine wickets remaining
Warwickshire 3 pts, Hampshire 3 pts

Hampshire will start the final day of the County Championship season still needing 239 to complete a win that will secure their Division One status.

Hampshire, reprieved from relegation in 2016, will avoid going down if they merely draw with the relegated Bears.

But, after Warwickshire posted 186 in their second innings, Hampshire closed on 20-1, still intent on victory.

Ex-Bears captain Ian Bell was the hosts' mainstay with 77 not out, his second-best Championship score of 2017.

After being joined by Ryan Sidebottom on 125-9, Bell helped put on 59 for the last wicket - a potentially match-turning stand that could prove crucial in the final outcome.

With Bell within 23 runs of his first Championship century for 17 months, last man Sidebottom was trapped leg before wicket by Ian Holland.

Coincidentally, Bell's last Championship century was against Hampshire at Southampton in April 2016 in his first game as county captain.

Hampshire then lost former skipper Jimmy Adams, who edged Olly Hannon-Dalby to second slip.

There was no further play after tea because of rain, but the weather forecast looks set to be a lot fairer for the last day.

A Hampshire defeat would open the door for Somerset to overtake them, although in that instance Somerset would need to beat Middlesex at Taunton to survive and send Hampshire down.

Earlier, Hampshire's main wicket-taker was Gareth Berg (3-40), while Fidel Edwards claimed another two wickets to take his match haul to 7-111.

Warwickshire bowler Olly Hannon-Dalby:

"We were hoping to sneak a few overs in after tea because we knew there was a bit of bad weather coming but it turned out to be a good call from the umpires because as soon as we came off it started pouring down.

"It should be a good final day, when they have got to make the highest score of the game, which won't be easy.

"It has come out really nicely for me in this game. I've been playing in the second team for the last couple of months and felt in good rhythm and got into some really good habits.

"It was good to get a long spell under my belt. Jonathan Trott tried to take me off a few times, saying 'you don't want to get injured' but I said this is the time of your when you don't mind getting injured. It's nearly October."

Hampshire spinner Mason Crane:

"I'm backing the boys to dig in. We have put ourselves into this position and we have got to get ourselves out of it.

"It would have been nice to bat a bit better in the first innings and be chasing a few less but it hasn't happened and we have just got to forget it.

"We need another 240-odd and have just got to focus on that. It is interesting how six months of cricket comes down to one day but this happened last year and we didn't get over the line.

"Hopefully the batters are feeling determined and can do it for us and we can come back and score the runs and go home knowing we are still in Division One."