It was good, but it could have been even better as Hampshire delivered an impressive team performance to put themselves on top after day one of their vital Championship clash at Somerset.
With the home side reduced to 86 for seven at lunch on the first morning up against an attack that showed far more aggression than in recent times in four-day cricket, Hampshire would have hoped to have finished the job and bowled their opponents out for way under 150.
As it was, Somerset’s Murali Kartik (59 not out) batting at number nine and Alfonso Thomas (27) put on a frustrating stand of 64 for the eighth wicket as the hosts somehow clawed their way to 204 all out.
In reply, Hampshire closed last night on 124 for one and will already have their eye on a healthy first-innings lead – a rare event in their troubled Championship campaign.
But while they will be rightly pleased with their efforts, they will not be human if they didn’t think that it could have been even better and they could already be beyond the home side’s first-innings total.
With Somerset stripped of the injured Marcus Trescothick and the unavailable England pair Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler, their batting line-up looked distinctly vulnerable – especially on a deck with a green tinge to it.
James Tomlinson (three for 40) and Chris Wood (two for 59) made early breakthroughs and Tomlinson’s removal of Arul Suppiah was a gem as stumps were left pointing in all directions.
Dimi Mascarenhas (two for 43) and Imran Tahir (two for 22) made light of the absence of Dominic Cork, who was surprisingly rested for the clash.
But with Hampshire in the driving seat at lunch, Somerset fought back gamely in the afternoon session.
Once Wood had removed last man Charl Willoughby, Liam Dawson’s poor run of form saw him trapped lbw in the first over without scoring amid suggestions of another Hampshire batting failure.
But Jimmy Adams (57 not out) and Michael Carberry (65 not out) are the kind of guys who can dig in and they looked increasingly fluent as they built an imposing 123-run partnership.
A first-innings lead looks the minimum requirement.
It’s now how many Hampshire can add that will help them dictate the game in the quest for a vital win.