Late burst with the ball provides Hampshire title hope but poor batting effort leaves them with it all to do at Lancashire
Hampshire were dealt a major blow in their pursuit of the County Championship Division One title after being skittled out for just 143 on the opening day of their all important final fixture at Lancashire.
However, a late burst with the ball offered some light to come from an otherwise forgettable first day in Liverpool as the hosts closed on 25-3 after 20 overs.
Just six-and-a-half points separated the top four teams in the division heading into the final round of fixtures, with Hampshire leading the way from Warwickshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire, writes Jamie Bowman.
Hampshire, bidding for their first championship title in 48 years, got off to a terrible start after being put in by their hosts. Opener Ian Holland was snaffled at short leg by Dane Vilas off Tom Bailey for just one.
But a second-wicket stand of 42 between Joe Weatherley and Tom Alsop looked to have got the visitors back on track before the latter fell to George Balderson for 24.
One wicket quickly became two as Balderson enticed Nick Gubbins to edge his third ball through to wicket-keeper Alex Davies without scoring.
Lancashire were then celebrating again when the former England under-19s captain Balderson, who finished with figures of 3-21, got Weatherley (18) as Hampshire slumped to 48-4.
A massive stroke of luck accounted for Liam Dawson, who departed after lunch for 10, when his drive was deflected onto the stumps by Tom Bailey’s fingertips to run-out the England international.
The prize wicket of influential Hampshire captain James Vince (16) came in the same over as he attempted an expansive drive but could only edge through to Davies.
At this point, were in all sorts of trouble at 71-6 and that soon 91-7 when Davies took a stunning catch down the leg-side off Luke Wood to dismiss all-rounder Keith Barker (nine).
Number nine Mason Crane survived being dropped on nought to go onto make what could prove a vital score of 25 come the end of the match. He and Felix Organ put on 29 for the eighth-wicket prior to the latter departing for 22.
After getting rid of Organ, Matt Parkinson would go onto take the final two wickets to finish with 3-9 as Hampshire mustered a lowly 143 all out in 73.2 overs when they needed a respectable first inning score the most.
But Abbas' late burst, which saw him get rid of openers Balderson (five) and Davies (four), along with Barker trapping Luke Wells in front for nought offers some hope for Hampshire with the host resuming day two on 25-3.
Hampshire leg-spinner Crane, who contributed 25 from number nine, said: ‘A club ground in September is never going to be easy and we identified pretty early on that it wasn't going to be a massive score. We scrapped and fought to the end and the way we bowled at the end was brilliant.
‘We're pretty confident that if we get a couple of wickets in the morning we could be looking at a lead and we're pretty happy with the position we're in.
‘I think the wicket will spin and I'll have a role. We feel like we have all the options and come what may, whatever conditions there are or what pitch this turns into, we'll have all bases covered.’