Kyle Abbott’s three-wicket burst gave Hampshire the upper hand as they reduced Middlesex to 90 for four in their LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Lord’s.
Abbott, who had a spell at Middlesex in 2015, claimed a trio of scalps in quick succession – including a first-ball duck for home skipper Peter Handscomb – when play finally began at 4.15pm, following a lengthy rain delay.
Openers Sam Robson and Jack Davies provided Middlesex with a solid platform, sharing a partnership of 33 after James Vince won the toss and asked them to bat.
But the Seaxes then slumped to 56 for four before Nick Gubbins and John Simpson steered them to stumps without further damage.
Robson and Davies did well to see off the initial salvo from Keith Barker, who extracted plenty of bounce, and Mohammad Abbas – Middlesex’s nemesis with nine wickets when they crashed to a 249-run loss at the Ageas Bowl last month.
The Pakistan seamer beat the bat several times, but was unable to achieve a breakthrough in his opening spell and it took Hampshire until the 18th over to make inroads courtesy of Abbott.
Robson had already survived a sharp chance off the former South Africa seamer, carving a widish delivery towards point, where Tom Alsop, reaching above his head, could not cling on.
But Abbott got his man in his next over for 20, prodding forward to an outswinger and Liam Dawson scooped up the catch at second slip.
Davies – replacing the out-of-form Max Holden for only his second first-class appearance – showed plenty of promise in his innings of 24, compiled during more than an hour and a half at the crease.
The 21-year-old left-hander flicked Brad Wheal neatly off his pads to the boundary – but the next delivery proved to be his last, edging it into the reliable hands of Dawson.
Handscomb’s dismal run of form continued – his first six innings for Middlesex have realised just 31, including three ducks – as he misjudged his first ball from Abbott, which clipped off stump.
Abbott then took out Robbie White’s off stump in more eye-catching fashion during his next over, but Gubbins – who got away with a couple of slashes through the slips – and Simpson saw Middlesex through to the close.
James Vince and Nick Gubbins produced dogged half-centuries for their respective sides as wickets clattered around them on a gloomy day two at Lord’s.
Gubbins’ resisted for more than three hours to make 51 and scramble the hosts to 172, despite Kyle Abbott’s six for 44.
Hampshire were in the mire at 9-3 in reply thanks to three wickets for Ethan Bamber, but Vince’s uncharacteristically dogged 62 saw the visitors reach 131-7, when bad light drove the players from the field.
Abbott took just eight balls to add to his three wickets of the previous day when he trapped John Simpson lbw, the wicketkeeper not adding to his overnight score.
When Mohammad Abbas removed Martin Andersson and James Harris in quick succession it looked like Groundhog Day for the host’s brittle batting line-up at 100-7.
Some respectability was reached courtesy of a stand of 53 between Nick Gubbins and youngster Blake Cullen for the eighth wicket.
Gubbins mixed dogged defence with a couple of savage pulls to reach 50 for the fourth time this season in just over three hours, but was bowled shortly afterwards trying to leave another testing delivery from Abbas.
Abbott then returned to have Cullen caught at slip for an excellent 27 before trapping Bamber lbw to complete his six wicket haul.
The hosts needed quick wickets and Bamber soon obliged, bowling Ian Holland with a beauty which came back down the hill through bat and pad to kiss the off stump.
Bamber struck again in his next over having Joe Weatherley caught at slip from an inside edge onto the pad, though the opener clearly felt he’d made no contact.
When Tim Murtagh removed Tom Alsop lbw with the first ball of the next over Hampshire, dismissed for 79 and 92 in the first innings of their last two matches were in disarray at 9-3.
James Harris would later account for Sam Northeast, while Liam Dawson slashed Murtagh to Robbie White at slip and Bamber claimed a third scalp pinning Lewis McManus lbw.
Through it all however Vince stood firm. He was far from his fluent best, surviving a plethora of play and misses, but produce a trademark cover drive, one of seven fours in a 101-ball half-century.
Keith Barker helped by raising a fifty stand in 82 balls, but Cullen castled Vince before the light closed in to leave the game in the balance.
Keith Barker hit two personal landmarks to set up Hampshire’s seven-wicket victory against Middlesex in their rain-affected LV= Insurance County Championship game at Lord’s.
Barker blazed an impressive 84 – his highest score for the county – to secure a valuable lead of 36 as they stretched their first-innings total to 208.
The 34-year-old also bagged his 50th red-ball wicket in Hampshire colours as the home side crumbled to 101 all out inside 30 overs, with Kyle Abbott claiming another five-for to take his match tally to 11 for 85.
That left Hampshire chasing a modest target of 66 and, although rain intervened, they had just enough time to scramble home.
Resuming on 131 for seven, a first-innings advantage had looked an optimistic target for the visitors – particularly when Middlesex seamer Blake Cullen gained reward for his consistent bowling by taking out Abbott’s off stump.
That wicket prompted Barker to unleash a flurry of leg-side boundaries, including successive fours off Tim Murtagh to bring up his half-century and edge Hampshire ahead.
Although Murtagh removed Brad Wheal, caught behind, he received further punishment from Barker, who clattered him into the Mound Stand for two robust sixes in taking 18 off one over.
Barker thrashed James Harris for another six to secure a batting bonus point before he was last out later in the same over, courtesy of Peter Handscomb’s acrobatic catch at mid-on.
But wickets began to fall with greater frequency when Middlesex batted again after lunch, with Abbott and Mohammad Abbas swiftly sending their top five back to the pavilion.
Handscomb was the only one among those to reach double figures, striking Abbott cleanly through the covers for consecutive boundaries in a 12-ball knock of 24 before the seamer pinned him lbw with one that kept low.
At 67 for seven, Middlesex looked in danger of failing to exceed their paltry total of 79 at the Ageas Bowl last month, but Harris and Cullen displayed a degree of defiance with their stand of 28.
Abbott eventually wrapped up the innings after a 45-minute rain delay, trapping Harris and Ethan Bamber lbw to finish with five for 41.
It looked as if Hampshire might be thwarted by a further downpour, eight overs into their chase – but the batsmen returned for an extra half-hour and, despite losing three wickets, that was sufficient for Sam Northeast and Tom Alsop to see them over the line.