Hampshire Second XI were unfortunate to just fall short as they fell to an 11 run defeat, despite an excellent unbeaten century from Lewis McManus (114*) and some superb bowling from Danny Briggs (6-52 and 1-49) against Middlesex Second XI in the Second XI Championship at the Ageas Bowl.
McManus helped Hampshire pull close to Middlesex’s first-innings total of 287, after Briggs had initially ripped through the visiting batting line-up. Wickets too for young spinners Mason Crane (2-57) and Brad Taylor (1-44) restricted the visitors before McManus’ composed innings guided Hampshire to 255-8.
After a positive declaration with the hosts just 22 runs behind, the match looked set for intriguing second-innings with honours even after the second day and all results still possible.
With both sides seemingly intent on trying to force a positive result, Middlesex posted 283-8d in their second batting effort thanks to a fine century from Ireland international Paul Stirling (151*) with good support coming from Ryan Higgins (56*).
Briggs and Taylor (1-50) again took important wickets, but some aggressive batting left Hampshire with a difficult chase in the final two sessions, with 315 runs required for victory.
In response, the home-side began in confident fashion as half centuries for openers Joe Weatherly (67) and Tom Alsop (61) saw Hampshire to 104-0 after just 17 overs. But the loss of both men saw Hampshire stumble, and despite a well-made innings from Joe Gatting (68), the hosts fell to 242-5.
A win was still possible with 73 more required with still five wickets remaining but a victorious chase was not to be, with Hants falling 11 runs short.
The final three wickets fell for just 14 runs to see the home-side fall agonisingly short of their first win in the 2015 competition but Hampshire will look to kick-start their season when they face Surrey on 1st June.
Words: Will Brewster