Kyle Abbott continues to impress as Hampshire and Somerset trade blows

Kyle Abbott. Picture: Neil Marshall
Kyle Abbott. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Kyle Abbott claimed his third five-wicket haul in as many Specsavers County Championship games before Sam Northeast’s half century edged Hampshire into a slender first-innings lead on a dramatic first day against Somerset.

South African fast bowler Abbott has now taken 24 scalps in the four matches since the Championship returned from the Vitality Blast after he struggled during the early season with an ankle injury.

And Abbott used the seam friendly conditions to his advantage to post figures of five for 31 to help Hampshire bowl Somerset out for 106.

Hampshire then lost nine wickets of their own but Northeast handed his side a 36-run lead with a patient 53, with Hampshire ending on 142 for nine.

Tom Abell won the toss and elected to bat, which at the time appeared a sensible move with blue skies and a dark coloured pitch, albeit covered by a short layer of grass.

Although as it turned out that maybe wasn’t quite the case.

Marcus Trescothick seemed to back the decision as he threaded three eye-catching drives through cover and mid-off in Abbott’s first over.

But Abbott got his revenge in his following over as he found the outside edge of Trescothick’s bat, with wicketkeeper Tom Alsop completing a smart catch.

Azhar Ali and Ben Green provided a short 28-run stand for the second wicket before Ian Holland’s miserly bowling dismissed the pair.

Holland’s eight overs of medium pace boasted figures of two-for five, with Ali leg before to a fullish delivery which swung in gently, before Green was bowled attempting a straight drive.

James Hildreth and Abell both departed with the score on 71, which dislodged the block and started the Jenga tower style collapse.

Hildreth drove Abbott to Jimmy Adams at second slip before Abell pushed Dale Steyn to Holland at first slip.

After lunch, Abbott had the ball on a string and ran in with the confidence each ball could bring a wicket, as Lewis Gregory, Steven Davies and Jamie Overton found to their disadvantage.

Gregory was lbw to a ball which stayed relatively low, Davies was yorked before Overton was leg before to complete Abbott’s 23rd first-class five-for.

Overseas star Steyn quickly wrapped up the tail as both Craig Overton and Jack Leach edged behind - Somerset had lost their final six wickets for 35 as they were bowled out in 37 overs.

Hampshire’s reply followed a similar pattern of seaming deliveries causing the batsmen trouble.

Oli Soames, on his home Championship debut, lasted two deliveries before Josh Davey struck him on the pads.

Joe Weatherley followed his opening partner as Gregory pinned him lbw, before the seamer bowled a loosely driving James Vince two balls later leaving the hosts 12 for three.

Adams provided some much-needed resistance, during a 47-run stand with Northeast, with an assured 31 from 75 balls but lost his concentration in the last over before tea to gently dangle at Davey, to edge behind.

Northeast took over Adams’ rigidity, as Alsop was lbw and Holland was bowled – both by Jamie Overton – to leave Hampshire 68 for six.

The former Kent batsman refused to take risks while sliding his side out of danger and towards a first innings lead – his half century arriving in 90 balls.

Northeast, with Liam Dawson, accumulated 56 between them for the seventh wicket before the latter was caught and bowled by Green for a hard-working 31.

Northeast was dropped on 53 by Gregory at third slip, but departed when he was bowled by Jamie Overton.

Steyn was castled by Davey but Hampshire remained nine down at the close.

Report by ALEX SMITH