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Career-best for Dom on intriguing second day

Dom Bess claimed a career-best seven for 117 as Hampshire set Somerset 259 to win on the second day of this action-packed Specsavers County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The day began with Somerset resuming on 157 for five in reply to 162. The home side could add only 40 more runs as Kyle Abbott finished with four for 49 and Liam Dawson four for 63. Hampshire then batted aggressively to post 293 in their second innings, Michael Carberry making 51 and Gareth Berg 49.

By the close Somerset had reached 39 without loss in their second innings on a pitch offering turn and bounce and required a further 220 for victory.

The morning session saw Abbott and Dawson both add to their first day victims, while Berg wrapped up the innings with two for eight from 2.3 overs.

By lunch the visitors had wiped out a 35-run deficit on first innings, reaching 54 without loss. After the break Carberry and Dawson extended their opening stand to 84 before a see-saw contest took another turn.

Carberry drove Bess in the air to cover where James Hildreth parried the ball into the path of extra cover fielder Tom Abell. It signalled a collapse to 140 for six, Bess claiming the first five wickets to fall.

The pick of his deliveries beat James Vince in the flight as he advanced and bowled him through the gate for 19, a cameo that included two sixes and a four.

Throughout the afternoon Hampshire batted in cavalier fashion and at first it seemed the approach might be their downfall.

When Jack Leach bowled Lewis McManus aiming a big swing at the ball after hitting him for six, the lead was only 105 and Somerset looked to have regained the initiative. However, Berg had other ideas, striking seven fours and two sixes, as the Hampshire tail wagged. Abbott hit a valuable 33 before Mason Crane built on those efforts with a career-best 29.

Reece Topley shared a last-wicket stand of 36 with Crane before he was eventually caught at mid-on to give Bess, who sent down 23.3 overs, turning the ball at just the right pace, his seventh wicket.

It has been an extraordinary start to the career of the young Sidmouth cricketer who made his debut towards the end of last season.

He also took an excellent running catch at third-man to dismiss the dangerous Sean Ervine for 27 off Jamie Overton, who bowled well for his two for 43.

Somerset were left with ten overs in the day to bat and set about their target with vigour, Marcus Trescothick taking three boundaries in an over off Topley. He was unbeaten on 21 at the close, with Dean Elgar 17 not out.

After play Dom spoke about taking ten wickets in a match for the first time. “It feels a bit surreal,” he said. “I was more focussed on bowling them out so we could start batting again.”

Was he surprised by the way the Hampshire batsmen looked to attack him?: “I thought that the wicket got a little bit flatter and it wasn’t spinning so much, but they were probably thinking about the first innings and how much it spun then. They did come after me and put me under the pump quite a bit and made it quite hard, but I was always up for the challenge.

“It was a good day for me because I got a catch down at third man, which I was happy about because it’s always nice to grab onto those and have another one coming to the wicket and the momentum stays with us.”

What is the pitch like? “We think it is getting flatter,” he said. “The sun has been on it all day, but with the new ball there is still a little bit there.”

Does Dom think that Somerset will go on and win the game? “Of course I do,” he said. “100% and I am in no doubt. We have got a good batting line up, we know our game plan. We know what to do and have still got two days left. Yes I really do think we can with this game.”

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground