Hampshire sniff victory over tiring champions

Michael Carberry. Picture: Neil Marshall
Michael Carberry. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Kyle Abbott has challenged Hampshire to take advantage of a tiring Middlesex and record a second consecutive County Championship division one victory.

The South African swing bowler hit 56 as the Ageas Bowl outfit piled on a first-innings lead of 82 before they were finally bowled out for 438 on day three.

The 29-year-old then took three for 24 to reduce the county champions to 111 for four at stumps.

Hampshire, who beat Yorkshire at Headingley last week, now have a sniff of success in their second top-flight game of the season.

And with Middlesex showing signs of fatigue following 134 overs in the field, Abbott reckons the first hour of today’s action will be pivotal.

The ex-Proteas international said: ‘I think it is pretty well set for a result.

‘We have a big first hour. If we can knock over two in that hour and get batting pretty soon, it would be pretty great.

‘They spent a long time in the field, which will play to our advantage.

‘We did well yesterday to keep them out there that long and a couple of the wickets last night were purely down to fatigue.

‘I thought we batted well against some testing bowling.

‘We certainly would have taken that score.’

Abbott, who began the day unbeaten on two after joining Michael Carberry as nightwatchman late on the second day, relished the chance to weigh in with some runs.

Meanwhile, Carberry (98) and Rilee Rossouw (99) came agonisingly close to centuries as Hampshire piled on the runs.

Abbott saluted his team-mates, admitting his heartbreak at not seeing Carberry bring up three figures and revealing the pain of Rossouw, who ran himself out.

He added: ‘Sometimes I didn’t look at home when Finny (Steven Finn) was fizzing it around my ears but I enjoy the nightwatchman duty – it is an opportunity to bat!

‘Rilee was excellent with a fractured finger. Some of the shots were incredible and he showed what he will bring to the team.

‘I thought he had the second run. I know he is quick through the wickets but it was a shame.

‘He took it quite badly. He took a while to unpad. He realised the opportunity of a century had been missed but it isn’t the end of the world.

‘From what I can understand he was in a lot of pain but he is a tough Afrikaner, so he won’t sit down and roll over.

‘I was heartbroken for Carbs. I just wanted to be out there with him when he got that first hundred after what he had been through.

‘Carbs has had an amazing attitude since I’ve come back.

‘He seems to be free and it shows in his cricket.’