County Championship: Somerset held up Liam Dawson century for Hampshire

Hampshire's Liam Dawson
Liam Dawson's previous highest County Championship score this summer was 92
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl (day one):
Hampshire 196: Dawson 103, Barker 40; Gregory 3-63
Somerset 30-2: Abbott 2-1
Somerset (3pts) trail Hampshire (0pts) by 166 runs

Somerset's push for a first County Championship title was held up by Liam Dawson's century as Hampshire recovered from 24-5 on day one at the Ageas Bowl.

Lewis Gregory took three early wickets to leave Hampshire deep in trouble after electing to bat.

But England all-rounder Dawson led the recovery with 103, and Keith Barker hit 40 before they were dismissed for 196.

Kyle Abbott then struck twice to leave Somerset 30-2 in reply when bad light forced an early close.

The South African paceman trapped India opener Murali Vijay leg before and then, after a short delay for bad light, bowled Steve Davies with one that nipped away before play was finally called off with the match finely poised.

Somerset began the penultimate round of games eight points clear of Essex at the top of the Division One table.

And while their title rivals were delayed starting their game with Surrey because of bad light at Chelmsford, Somerset were soon into their work and made the perfect start after losing the toss to pick up maximum bowling points.

Gregory struck with the third ball of the game as Felix Organ edged to James Hildreth at first slip, before Josh Davey bowled Tom Alsop.

Gregory then had Sam Northeast caught at gully and bowled James Vince through the gate to leave Hampshire 18-4, and they were 24-5 when Ian Holland edged Craig Overton to Vijay at second slip.

Dawson, who had made six half-centuries in the Championship this summer before this game, began the rebuild with Aneurin Donald and Lewis McManus.

But it was his eighth-wicket stand of 92 with Barker that helped steer Hampshire towards a potentially competitive total on a pitch that has offered plenty of movement with the new ball, and at a ground where neither side mustered 200 in the first innings of last week's win over Surrey.

Somerset will now look towards captain Tom Abell and the experienced Hildreth to give them a solid platform when play resumes on Tuesday as they look to better Hampshire's total and build a first-innings lead.

Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson:

"I played nicely. Going in 80-4, you are under a lot of pressure but I looked to counter attack and Barks played a crucial knock. We were 80-7 when he came in and got us up to a score.

"It was tough work but we saw with the Surrey wicket last week that, if you get a score on the board, then batting can get difficult later on.

"We are still in the game. If we can bowl them out for a similar score then we will be in a pretty good position.

"And this is one of the quickest pitches I've played on here in the last couple of years. There is more bounce and zip than usual."

Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory:

"There was a little bit in the surface with the new ball, and there were some overheads as well, so it was nice to make use of that early and get ahead of the game before Dawson played beautifully.

"The ball to get Vince was a nice one. I've got him a few times like that We know how good he is. Him and Sam Northeast are crucial wickets. To get those two cheaply was really nice.

"The mood is really good - it's nice to be this end of the table rather than the other. The goal at the start of the season was to be up and around it in September.

"That's where we are, but we're trying to keep things very simple, take each day as it comes, and put in as good a performance as possible."

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