Powerful Kyle Abbott ensures Hampshire complete dominant victory against Essex
Kyle Abbott ripped through the Essex tail as Hampshire secured a crushing win in the opening round of Specsavers County Championship at the Ageas Bowl.
The South African celebrated figures of five for 77 with his powerful fast bowling, writes Alex Smith.
Ravi Bopara had given Essex hope of pulling off an incredible draw with a century but once he fell Essex tumbled to an innings and 87 run defeat.
It handed Hampshire a win by an innings and 87 runs along with full bonus points.
Hampshire had begun the day with a simple equation – take five wickets in 90 overs, with Adam Wheater unable to bat due to the damaged thumb he sustained during the first day of the match.
But under thick grey skies and the floodlights, Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate negotiated the opening nine overs of the day – until Fidel Edwards was introduced to the attack.
The West Indian paceman needed just two deliveries to tickle the outside of ten Doeschate’s bat with a strong out-swinger.
Simon Harmer, who had departed for a golden duck earlier in the match, arrived at the wicket and frustrated Hampshire – who drifted with an old, lifeless ball.
Spinner Harmer was given one moment of worry by Edwards when he was struck on the helmet by a vicious bouncer, but continued quickly afterwards.
Bopara was the only Essex batsman who found going on a fairly flat wicket simple in both innings – with Edwards, Abbott, Gareth Berg and Keith Barker adhering to a straight, hard to put away, line.
During the first innings he had scored 37 while Essex collapsed and replicated his rear-guard again during the follow-on.
Bopara wasn’t one to be bogged down in the hunt to waste time as he played his natural game and continued to amass runs.
The former England all-rounder plodded along and reached his 26th first-class century before lunch.
He had needed 168 balls to reach the milestone, in an innings which included 12 boundaries.
But after lunch, and with Hampshire taking the second new ball immediately, Essex’s weak tail was rushed through.
Bopara’s vigil ended on 107 when he edged behind to Lewis McManus in the 84th over.
Harmer, who had reached a brave and time sapping half century in 118 deliveries, had added 111 with Bopara but fell soon after as Edwards had him lbw.
Edwards ended the match with figures of eight for 100, having taken three for 49 in the second innings.
Abbott then found the thick outside edge of Jamie Porter’s bat – with Liam Dawson diving brilliantly low to his right at second slip.
And Abbott completed the resounding victory when he castled Sam Cook.