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Impressive Somerset wrap up resounding win

Somerset strengthened their position at the top of the Specsavers County Championship with a resounding 313-run victory over Hampshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Chasing an improbable 418 to win, the visitors were reduced to 104 for nine from an overnight 12 for one, with Joe Weatherley unable to bat.

Jack Leach claimed three wickets and there were two each for Lewis Gregory, Jamie Overton and Dom Bess as only James Fuller, who made 35, offered much resistance.

Somerset took a maximum 24 points from their sixth win in eight games to extend their lead at the top of the First Division, while Hampshire had to settle for six points

With Tom Alsop and Weatherley nursing injuries, Hampshire were facing a mountainous task at the start of play.

It soon got even tougher as Ajinkya Rahane, without adding to his overnight score of eight, drove loosely at a wide ball from Gregory and Overton claimed a sharp catch at second slip.

Overton then found the edge of nightwatchman Kyle Abbott’s bat and wicketkeeper Steve Davies took a straightforward catch.

Soon it was 28 for four as Rilee Rossouw guided a short delivery from Overton straight to Tom Banton at gully and departed for eight.

Overton, looking to add to his five first innings wickets, again worked up good pace from the River End, while Gregory also posed plenty of problems as Northeast and Fuller looked to see off the opening bowlers.

It was Leach who struck a big blow by having Hampshire captain, and first innings centurion, Northeast brilliantly caught by Tom Abell at cover for 23.

The Somerset skipper dived forward full length to get his fingers under the ball and leave the visitors on 85 for five with lunch still 25 minutes away.

Keith Barker could contribute only four before picking out Abell at short mid-wicket as he looked to work Leach through the leg side.

Fuller produced some belligerent blows, hitting two boundaries in an over from Bess, before the off-spinner took revenge by bowling him.

At 97 for seven, Hampshire opted to send in Fidel Edwards, rather than risk aggravating the injuries to Alsop and Weatherley.

When Edwards was bowled by Leach he appeared ready to shake hands, but out limped Alsop to bat with a runner for the second time in the game.

The lunch interval was delayed but by 1:05pm the match was over, Leach taking a catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Mason Crane.

At the end of the match Somerset Captain, Tom Abell said: “I didn’t think I would be sitting here at lunchtime talking about victory because I expected a really tough day. But once again our bowlers have performed fantastically well, as they have been doing all season.

“It was still a pretty good wicket to bat on, but Jamie Overton and Lewis Gregory got the ball swinging at the start of the morning and really set the tone before our spin twins came to the party too.

“I thought the key to winning was the work we put in with the ball on day two. That put Hampshire under pressure and all credit to Jamie and Lewis for the way they bowled throughout the match.

“We will continue to look no further ahead than the next game, which is now against Notts next week. If we can win that it will be another important step towards our goal.”

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