Vince and Dawson pile on the agony as Hampshire take complete control of Championship encounter at Leicestershire
Captain James Vince made the third double century of his first-class career as Hampshire continued to dominate their LV=Insurance County Championship match against Leicestershire.
Vince received fine support from Liam Dawson, who made an unbeaten 152 before the visitors declared, leaving the Foxes needing a mammoth 463 simply to avoid the follow-on.
That prospect looked even more unlikely when Hampshire’s seamers picked up four wickets before the close.
Kyle Abbott made an early breakthrough, pinning Sam Evans leg before and then having Hassan Azad caught by Dawson at second slip.
Harry Dearden looked in good touch before edging a catch behind off Brad Wheal, and Mohammad Abbas, who bagged 79 Championship wickets in 19 games for Leicestershire in 2018 and 2019, had Lewis Hill caught at second slip during a spell of five consecutive maidens as Hampshire turned the screw.
Resuming on his overnight score of 168, made from 167 deliveries faced, Vince continued to score freely, particularly through the offside, as Leicestershire’s bowlers once again failed to maintain a consistent line and length.
Vince’s 200 came up off 195 balls and included 32 fours and two sixe.
He looked certain to pass his previous first-class career best score of 240 (made against Essex during Hampshire’s Division 2 title-winning season of 2014) when he tried to help an innocuous leg-side delivery from left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson down to the fine leg boundary. Instead, he got a thin edge into the gloves of wicket-keeper Harry Swindells.
Vince had put on 194 for the fourth wicket with Dawson, having added 224 for the third with Tom Alsop the previous day.
It was Parkinson’s only reward of the innings, and came the ball after he had seen Dawson badly dropped off his bowling by Dearden on the midwicket boundary.
It was an expensive miss, as Dawson, who was on 101 at the time, raced on past 150 before Vince called his batsmen in on 612-5
That was easily the county’s highest score against Leicestershire, surpassing the 548-8 declared made at Southampton in 1927, and was Hampshire’s 11th highest Championship score in their 126-year history.
Leicestershire captain Colin Ackermann and Swindells fought hard in the evening session to put together an unbroken partnership of 70 for the Foxes' fifth wicket, but a three day win for the visitors remains a distinct possibility as the hosts closed on 151-4.
Dawson said afterwards: ‘it was another extremely good day for us, we obviously posted a very big score and have them four down with two days to play is an extremely good position.
‘James [Vince] makes it look so easy, it was good to share the moment of his double hundred with him.
‘I really wasn't expecting to score 150 myself, I've worked hard this winter (after recovering from an Achilles operation) but I haven't had much specific cricket preparation so it was good to get a score like that.
‘It's a belter of a wicket for this time of year, pretty flat, but with so much time left in the game if we keep bowling as well as we did today hopefully we can go on and get the wickets we need.’
Leicestershire’s Parkinson added: ‘We were talking afterwards and quite a few of us felt James Vince's innings was the best that had been played against us in our careers.
‘It's been a tough couple of days against a very good side, but Harry Swindells, Colin Ackermann, and Harry Dearden showed we can score runs against their high quality attack, and the partnership at the end gives us something to build on.
‘We have a lot to learn from the way they bowled, and the pressure they put the batsmen under.
‘It's an opportunity to show fight and character, and if we apply ourselves we can still take this match pretty deep.’