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Batsmen put Somerset in pole position on day three

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Somerset’s batsmen put their side in a strong position on the third day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match against Hampshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

A number of fine performances with the bat saw the home side close on 323 for six, a lead of 372 which sets up an intriguing final day.

Tom Abell, Steve Davies and George Bartlett all made half centuries and Lewis Goldsworthy played his part as the visiting attack struggled to contain their hosts.

Having bowled Hampshire out for 311 from an overnight 285 for seven, Josh Davey finishing with five for 78, the home side rammed home their 49-run first innings.

Abell led from the front, striking 15 fours in his 155-ball innings of 98, and he was well supported by Davies 82, Bartlett 74 not out and Goldsworthy 36.

Off-spinner Felix Organ was the most successful Hampshire bowler with three for 115, but his side face a tricky last day.

Play began with the visitors eager to close in on Somerset’s first innings total of 360 and Lewis McManus unbeaten on 91. His hopes of a century were dashed in the opening over when edging the first ball he received from Davey to Abell at third slip.

Organ followed in the next over for 26, lbw to Lewis Gregory, and it took a last-wicket stand of 19 between Kyle Abbott and Brad Wheal to earn Hampshire a third batting point.

Somerset suffered an early setback when looking to build on their advantage as Eddie Byrom was caught behind off Abbott.

Davies and Abell took the total to 59 at lunch and both flourished in the afternoon session.

The experienced Davies justified his promotion to opener with nine fours in his half-century and the hundred partnership was brought up off just 131 balls.

Abell produced some classic cover drives in moving to fifty off 71 balls, also with nine boundaries, and it came as a surprise when Organ broke the stand of 139 with the score on 152.

Davies had just connected sweetly with a swept four when trying to repeat the shot and falling lbw, having faced 97 balls and extended his boundary count to 13 fours and a six.

James Hildreth could contribute only 13 before chipping a return catch to Organ, who struck again just before tea.

Abell had progressed stylishly towards what was looking an inevitable hundred when bowled off an inside edge.

At the interval, Somerset were 208 for four. The final session saw 23-year-old Bartlett and Goldsworthy, who is just 20, display their burgeoning talents.

Bartlett timed the ball sweetly from the start and hit six fours and a six in an attractive 71-ball half-century.

The diminutive Goldsworthy lost little by comparison and, while he and nightwatchman Davey fell at the end of the day, the fifth-wicket stand of 108 strengthened Somerset’s grip.

At the close of play, Steve Davies said: “It’s been a pretty successful game for me personally and I think we’re in control of the game.

“At this stage I don’t know what the plan is for tomorrow. I think we’ll bat on for a little bit and then hopefully create 10 chances.

“We needed someone to step up after losing Craig for this game and Josh has done that. He’s done it time and time again. He’ a wonderful bowler and he thoroughly deserved his five wickets.”

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11/07/2022 11:00 - Southport