HAMPSHIRE coach Dale Benkenstein is hoping victory in Somerset will give his side the breathing space to enjoy the run-in to their County Championship division one campaign.
The Ageas Bowl outfit travel to Taunton today while occupying one of the two relegation places with three games left to play.
But with victories from their past two County Championship outings against Durham and Warwickshire, confidence has returned to the Hampshire side at just the right time and put added pressure on their hosts.
Somerset sit one place above their visitors today in the division one table after five straight four-day defeats.
Another loss would see them leapfrogged by Hampshire in the table and dealt a significant psychological blow in their own battle to beat the drop.
And despite this latest outing being a massive game, Benkenstein believes his side are well-placed to apply such punishment as they look to build on their recent impressive county form.
‘I’m a lot happier with the way we’re playing now – we’ve had our ups and downs in this format but we’ve played to our potential in the last two matches which is pleasing,’ he said.
‘Every game is going to be pretty tough but this is a massive game and it will really make it easier if we can do well.
‘If we get that win (at Taunton) it gives us a bit of breathing space and there will be opportunities in this game and the next two after that to do that and get ahead of the game.
‘Hopefully, we can continue to take confidence from the last two games.’
Hampshire’s hopes of a third consecutive victory have been boosted by Fidel Edwards’ availability, after he picked up a hamstring injury in the seven-wicket win over Durham earlier this month.
He’s been included in the 13-man travelling party, which also includes Mason Crane and James Tomlinson.
The visitors are unbeaten in their past nine away fixtures against Somerset, while Jimmy Adams scored a superb 207 the last time Hampshire faced Somerset at Taunton as they romped to an innings victory.