Kyle Abbott strengthened Hampshire’s title ambitions with a six-wicket burst on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Welbeck Cricket Club.
The former South African international returned figures of six for 37 from his 14 overs as Notts were bundled out for just 162 in only 60.2 overs.
Hampshire closed on 93 for two and Abbott felt it was a good day for the team who are chasing the crown.
Joe Weatherley finished unbeaten on 47, while Ajinkya Rahane contributed 34.
The visitors will need to bat well to push on from this position.
Abbott said: ‘It’s always tricky coming to an outground because you don’t know what you are going to get but yes, there was plenty in it for the bowlers and we put balls in the right areas and were rewarded throughout the day.
‘It is almost ideal when you have an uncontested toss and you bowl first to get an early wicket. It comes with a little risk and reward but if we were offered them being 162 out at the start of the day we’d have snapped that up quickly.
‘That was a fantastic partnership at the end (between Weatherley and Rahane) and it has put us in a good space. We’re playing confident cricket at the moment and it is showing both with bat and ball.’
The hosts made the worst possible start, losing a wicket to the third ball of the match as Ben Slater unluckily inside-edged Keith Barker onto his stumps, without a run on the board.
The visitors then struck twice more to pick up an early bowling bonus point as Notts slid to 41 for three.
They continued that momentum after lunch as wickets continued to tumble with Abbott & Co continued to cause damage.
In reply Oli Soames nicked Fletcher to slip with only five runs on the board.
Weatherley and Rahane, the Indian Test batsman, combined to frustrate Notts over the closing two hours, adding 80 together, the highest stand of the day of the day.
Jake Ball, playing on his home club ground, was unlucky, twice having Weatherley put down in the slip cordon before he found a willing catcher in Mullaney, to send back Rahane for 34.