Gutsy finish pleases Hampshire paceman

Gareth Berg celebrates a wicket. Picture: Neil MarshallGareth Berg celebrates a wicket. Picture: Neil Marshall
Gareth Berg celebrates a wicket. Picture: Neil Marshall
Gareth Berg praised Hampshire's fighting spirit after a difficult opening to the County Championship division one battle against Surrey at the Ageas Bowl.

After the rock-bottom visitors had eased to 208 without loss, the home side fought back with three wickets in the final session restrict their relegation rivals to 332 for four at stumps.

Berg, who was the pick of the Hampshire attack with two for 47, was pleased to see his side end a muggy opening day on a positive note.

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However, the seamer admits they are firmly under the cosh in the important clash in the race to avoid the drop into division two.

‘It was a tough day and the weather played a massive part,’ said Berg.

‘We have not played in these muggy conditions this season yet.

‘It was muggy and sweaty and took a lot out of us as a bowling unit.

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‘We were in with a chance of some early wickets but they batted well.

‘We didn’t hit our straps early and gave them the momentum.

‘We tried our best but when you are chasing the eight ball it is difficult to come back.

‘We came back at the end there with the new ball, which was good. That gave us a boost.

‘And hopefully, if we stick to our plans out there today, we will get some more wickets.’

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Berg revealed Hampshire would most likely have chosen to bowl had they won the toss.

Instead, Surrey skipper Gareth Batty opted to bat and his decision paid off as Rory Burns (122), Dominic Sibley (99) and explosive Aussie Aaron Finch (56 not out) put the visitors in the box seat.

With former England keeper-batsman Steven Davies also unbeaten at the close of play, Berg recognises this morning’s session will be crucial to Hampshire’s hopes of victory.

However, he is confident the home side will find the wicket to their liking when they get the chance to mount a reply.

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Berg said: ‘The pitch was a little bit slow to start with but it is going to get quicker as the game goes on. It looks like quite a nice one to bat on.

‘We were looking to bowl ourselves, which we’re not too sure about now.

‘We need to control the flow of the scoreboard this morning and get a couple of early wickets.

‘Finchy is a big wicket but there is always a chance with him. Davo is a good player as well.

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‘They have the edge but a couple of wickets at the end was positive.’

Hampshire welcomed Ryan McLaren back into the side.

The pace bowler, who picked up a hamstring strain at Durham earlier this month, replaced all-rounder Liam Dawson – with the rest of the team unchanged from the trip to Warwickshire last week.