Hampshire v Essex: Duo dig in for champions

PUBLISHED: 18:24 20 September 2017

Daniel Lawrence hits four runs for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Daniel Lawrence hits four runs for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Patient half-centuries from Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara helped champions Essex into the lead after being forced to follow-on at Hampshire.

Kyle Abbott ripped through Essex to dismiss them for just 76 first time around at the Ageas Bowl as the hosts appeared to be strolling towards an innings victory.

South African Abbott ended with 6-20 as Essex collapsed to their lowest score of the season, but Lawrence and Bopara helped the visitors reach parity and then end day two 30 runs ahead.

Essex began the day on 33-5 after Abbott and new-ball partner Fidel Edwards had sparked a collapse in reply to Hampshire’s 254.

And Abbott needed just four morning deliveries to add to his two wickets the previous evening, as he sent Lawrence’s off stump cartwheeling.

Captain Ryan ten Doeschate had reached 26, the highest score in the innings, but became Abbott’s next victim as he was struck on the pads.

The former Test quick then celebrated his fourth five-wicket haul since re-joining Hampshire at the beginning of the season as he hit Simon Harmer on his back pad plumb in front of the stumps.

The very next ball Neil Wagner was adjudged lbw to a ball pinging back at him, but Jamie Porter unconvincingly blocked the hat-trick ball.

Ian Holland wrapped up the innings when James Foster was lbw, with Essex scoring below 100 for the first time for three seasons and completing their lowest score since they were bowled out for 20 in 2013.

That left Essex 178 runs behind Hampshire, who were desperate for the win to confirm their place in Division One for the 2018 season.

After asking the away side to bat again Varun Chopra gloved Gareth Berg behind to spark worries of a repeat of the first innings.

But Nick Browne and Tom Westley put on 43 for the second wicket in a watchful manner to begin a turn in fortunes.

Browne fell lbw to a sharp Liam Dawson turner, while Westley made a case for Ashes selection with a conditions perfect 36 before smashing a caught and bowled back to spinner Dawson.

At 81-3 Essex were still 97 runs behind Hampshire, but Lawrence and Bopara partnered up to bat their side towards safety.

Lawrence had got off the mark with a six over mid-wicket, but attacking shots were at a premium as he scored his half-century in 115 balls.

After moving into the lead, and a century stand, Bopara collected his 48th fifty from 106 balls.

Lawrence ended the day, early due to bad light, on 78 not out, with Bopara on 52 and the stand unbroken on 127.

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