HAMPSHIRE’s troubles in Taunton continued as they toiled on day two of their County Championship division one game against Somerset.
Centuries from the hosts’ top three batsmen enabled them to take a firm hold of the match and the battle to avoid relegation.
The visitors went into the game second from bottom in the top tier, with their rivals one place and five points above with just three games of the 2015 season remaining.
Marcus Trescothick, who made 153, Tom Abell 131 and Tom Cooper with 118, all enjoyed themselves in the bright sunshine and helped Somerset take a lead of 329 runs, with five first innings wickets remaining, at the end of the second day.
Resuming on 147 without loss to Hampshire’s first innings total of 240, the overnight pair of Abell and Trescothick rode out the opening few overs when the conditions were overcast.
Fidel Edwards looked threatening early on, but once the sun broke through the opening pair started to take their runs freely.
When Abell drove the first ball of the 17th over of the morning to the boundary, he passed 1,000 career first-class runs in his 17th match.
Abell and his opening partner were neck and neck going into the 90s but it was Trescothick who won the race to 100 when he took four off leg spinner Bradley Crane – his 57th century coming off 180 balls with 19 fours.
Two overs later Abell claimed his maiden first-class century when he ran three to deep cover off Crane, his runs coming from 155 balls with 16 fours.
The opening partnership was worth 272 – one short of the record stand for Somerset between the two counties, set by Peter Roebuck and Nigel Felton in 1986 – when Abell played back to a fuller delivery from Gareth Berg and was out lbw for 133.
Trescothick was in vintage form and continued to score freely, sweeping Ryan McLaren to the fine leg boundary to pass 1,000 first-class runs in a season for the seventh time in his career.
In the next over, Trescothick looked to drive Edwards, who was bowling with the new ball, and was bowled for 153, which made Somerset 341 for two.
The Somerset captain’s runs came from 261 balls and contained 29 fours.
New batsman Tom Cooper then raced his way to 50, taking three consecutive fours and a single off an over from McLaren.
The Australian was not done yet and hit two huge sixes – the first off Liam Dawson over long off and the second off Crane at the opposite end that landed in the new pavilion building site.
Cooper went to his maiden championship century for Somerset when he lofted Crane to the cover boundary – his runs coming off 103 balls with 13 fours and two sixes.
Cooper took his own score onto 118 when he was caught at slip by Sean Ervine after reverse sweeping Dawson with the score on 483.
James Hildreth added 68 for the fourth wicket with Jim Allenby, when Hildreth was bowled by Dawson for 71.
Pete Trego went cheaply – caught by Matt Smith off the bowling of Dawson – before Allenby and Luke Ronchi saw Somerset through to close by which time the score was 569 for five off 129 overs.