County Championship Division One - day two (close)

Hampshire 196 & 176-8 lead Somerset 142 by 230 runs

JAMES Vince's first red-ball century of the summer and a nine-wicket haul for Kyle Abbott have ended Somerset's hopes of wrapping up the title this week and set up a tricky fourth innings chase for the leaders in Southampton.

Hampshire’s South African fast bowler Abbott took 9-40 - the best County Championship figures by any bowler in three years - in three scintillating spells of seam bowling to roll Somerset over for 142.

He had started with two wickets on a gloomy first evening before taking five in the morning and wrapped up the tail after lunch – with Fidel Edwards preventing him from a 10-fer.

That gave Hampshire a first-innings lead of 54, before they collapsed to 10 for three and 45 for six, but Vince played a masterful innings to seemingly bat the visitors out the game.

Somerset, who can at best end the penultimate round of fixtures 23 points ahead of Essex, ended the day trailing by 230 runs.

Abbott had ended the first day with figures of two for one, having dismissed Murali Vijay and Steve Davies, but while the pitch remained green, dry and very quick, the overheads had altered from grey clouds to unblemished blue.

That would usually suggest batsman-friendly conditions, but with his third ball of the morning Abbott jagged one back to dump a leaving Tom Abell’s off stump.

Edwards, who provided plenty of testing deliveries of his own, struck Tom Banton on the hand before luring him into edging behind with another short-pitched ball the next delivery.

From then on it was vintage Abbott; James Hildreth pushed behind and George Bartlett and Lewis Gregory were was lbw to in-swingers.

Craig Overton then had his stumps demolished and Somerset were 65-8.

Dom Bess (37) dug in to add 76 with Roelof van der Merwe (29no) before scooped to square leg and Josh Davey edged behind to end the innings – Abbott's figures are the best at the Ageas Bowl and sixth finest this century.

Abbott also boasts the most wickets for a fast bowler in Division One of the Championship, with 60 scalps – only spinners Simon Harmer and Jeetan Patel have more.

Despite being bowled out for 142, Somerset hit back with the new ball in style to blow the game wide open once more.

Davey had Ian Holland caught at second slip by Vijay and Tom Alsop lifted the same bowler to mid-wicket.

Gregory had Felix Organ prodding behind to a ball which held its line before Sam Northeast and Liam Dawson were lbw to Overton.

At 45 for six, and Aneurin Donald back in the dressing after he was bowled while withdrawing his bat, Hampshire appeared well short of setting Somerset a total.

But Vince dug in, taking 23 balls to get off the mark, before riding through the gears and making batting look easy.

Lewis McManus and Keith Barker came and went, lbw to van der Merwe and Abell respectively, but Vince accelerated – reaching his half century in 78 balls with a pulled four.

Vince was forced to manipulate the strike amongst some defensive Somerset fields but cruised to a 136-ball hundred, which comprised of 14 boundaries.

He ended the day unbeaten on 102, having added 73 for the ninth wicket with Abbott, to take Hampshire's lead to 230.

Essex, meanwhile, have secured enough batting and bowling points to mean that, no matter what the outcomes this week, the title will be decided when the top two face each other in Taunton from next Monday.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr said: “It was an outstanding spell from Abbott. On this surface the new ball has proven to be key and the way he displayed his skills were phenomenal. He asked questions every ball

“It was frustrating at the end in essence because of the early wickets but I think we have seen lower order partnerships in all the innings so far.

“There have been three excellent individual performances in this game: Dawson, Abbott and Vince. With Vince they were in a precarious position and wrestled it back.

“I think the surface is changing and if we can get through with the new ball then I think we are in the game.

“Hampshire scored 400 in the third innings last week and it is a similar pitch to that. There is a great opportunity for us tomorrow."