County Championship Division One - day one (close)

Hampshire 196 lead Somerset 30-2 by 166 runs

Liam Dawson scored a defiant first Specsavers County Championship century for three years to rescue his side from 24-5 against title-chasing Somerset on day one at the Ageas Bowl.

All-rounder Dawson saved Hampshire from an embarrassing first-innings total having arrived at the wicket with the hosts toiling on 18-4.

The World Cup winner almost single-handedly batted Hampshire into a strong position with his 103 from 156 balls, taking his side to 196 all out.

It was his eighth first-class hundred for Hampshire and first since notching 116 against Warwickshire in July 2016 – interestingly five of his tons for the county have now come in September.

Somerset took three bonus points from the day in their bid to beat Essex to the title, which would be the first in their history.

They went into the penultimate round of fixtures with an eight-point advantage over the 2017 champions at the top of the table.

James Vince won the toss decided to bat on a very green-topped pitch.

In the next 12 overs that appeared to be a curious decision as Hampshire crumpled, with Lewis Gregory and Josh Davey sharing the five early scalps.

It took just three deliveries for Gregory to make his first breakthrough, as Felix Organ edged to first slip while trying a back-foot drive.

Tom Alsop was bowled by a delightful delivery from Davey, which shaped in and then nipped away, before Sam Northeast was brilliantly caught by Roelof van der Merwe at gully.

Vince and Ian Holland also departed to Gregory, whose seven morning overs returned 3-24 before ending with an analysis of three for 63, the former while attempting a straight drive and the latter caught at second slip.

Aneurin Donald left Hampshire 57-6 when he was caught off Davey, before Lewis McManus departed soon after lunch when he was snaffled at point.

At 88 for seven, the home side were facing a sub-100 total but Dawson and Keith Barker put on 92 to even the game back up.

Dawson picked up on anything too straight to flick through the leg-side, with all but 26 of his runs coming on the on-side.

He brought up his fifty, the sixth of his Championship season, with a pull to the boundary from 90 balls.

Dawson accelerated slightly towards three figures with the only six of the day coming in the 53rd over with a powerful pull, with the aging ball calming down in the afternoon session.

Fittingly, the England international arrived at his century in 154 balls with a sumptuous straight drive.

Barker had supported him well with a well-made 40 from 76 balls before both departed in back-to-back overs.

Barker fell lbw to Dom Bess before Dawson made his first mistake when he edged Tom Abell behind – the Somerset skipper quickly wrapped up the innings two overs later when he castled Fidel Edwards.

Like Hampshire earlier, Somerset struggled against the moving led new ball to end the day on 30-2 – with Kyle Abbott picking up both wickets.

The South African had Murali Vijay for a nine-ball duck before bowling Steve Davies to post 2-1 from six overs before a series of bad light interruptions eventually curtailed the day.

Speaking at the close, Lewis Gregory said: “There was a little bit in the surface with the new ball, and there were some overheads as well, so it was nice to make use of that early and get ahead of the game before Daws [Liam Dawson] played beautifully in the afternoon session.

“I think the ball got a little bit softer. The wicket is quite abrasive, and it was hard to keep the ball in good condition.

“There was a little bit in the surface with a hard seam, and it seemed to nip around a little bit, so fingers crossed we can play well first thing in the morning and, with the sunshine out, we can make hay.

“The ball to get Vince was a nice one - I've got him out a few times like that now. We know how good Vincey is, him and Northeast are crucial wickets.

“Dawson played brilliantly. He was positive, he hit some good balls for four, and he put us under pressure.

"Looking ahead, that’s what we’ve got to do tomorrow – get this ball a little bit softer, and then it becomes slightly easier to bat. He played magnificently and it was a very good knock.

 “The mood is really good – it’s nice to be this end of the table rather than the other.

"The goal at the start of the season was to be up and around it in September, and that’s where we are, but we’re trying to keep things very simple, take each day as it comes, and put in as good a performance as possible.”

Copy supplied by Alex Smith, ECB Reporters' Network