Hampshire failed to make the most of a fabulous bowling performance from David Griffiths as they let a good position against Nottinghamshire literally slip through their fingers yesterday.
Dominic Cork’s side shelled an amazing seven slip catches – with Neil McKenzie and the skipper himself the chief culprits as they dropped three apiece.
But the overnight loss of wicketkeeper Nic Pothas to a calf strain couldn’t be helped, with Nottinghamshire’s academy glovesman Adeel Shafique turning in a solid display until Michael Bates had made his way up the M1.
By the time bad light curtailed the second day’s play with Nottinghamshire on 293 for nine, Griffiths had grabbed five wickets for 72.
But he could easily have had eight or nine if the catchers had kept their part of the bargain.
Samit Patel was the mainstay of the home side’s reply – dropped four times he made the most of his luck to hit 116 and drag his team into a first-innings lead.
While Patel saved the day for Notts, it was the Isle of Wight-born 25-year-old who was the star for Cork’s side.
And he did it instantly after coming into the attack in the seventh over of the day – destroying Paul Franks’ stumps with a terrific yorker with his very first delivery.
He did it again in his second over as he sent Mark Wagh’s off stump cartwheeling across the turf for a second scalp in nine balls.
It was 22 deliveries before he had even conceded a run as batsmen played and missed with regularity.
Perhaps the key moment came with Patel on just nine.
Having already escaped with Cork unable to take a tough chance that just about carried, McKenzie fumbled a straightforward opportunity.
The luckless Friedel de Wet eventually enjoyed a change in fortune when he clattered Alex Hales’ off stump to leave the hosts teetering on 85 for three at lunch.
And when Sean Ervine then grabbed a couple of lbw decisions, Hampshire were in with a chance of a first-innings lead with the home side reduced to 118 for five.
But Patel and Chris Read (54) then went on the counter-attack to build a 148-run stand before Griffiths came to the rescue once more.
Ervine eventually held a chance that flashed at his head to finally dismiss Patel.
And Read soon followed thanks to a smart catch from Bates.
The young keeper then made his journey worthwhile with a stunning flying effort to get rid of Steven Mullaney and give Griffiths his deserved fifth victim.