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Maximum batting points for Somerset on day one

James Hildreth led the way with a century as Somerset gained maximum batting points on the opening day of this Specsavers County Championship match with Hampshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Hildreth’s exquisite 105 was his first Championship hundred of the season and he shared a second-wicket stand of 178 with skipper Tom Abell (82). Their good work was backed up by youngsters Tom Banton and George Bartlett, who both hit half-centuries.

However, Hampshire’s seamers stuck to their task and Kyle Abbott produced a spell of four for 22 from the Somerset Pavilion End late in the day as seven wickets fell for just 55 runs in bright sunshine.

By the close Hampshire had replied with 15 for one from seven overs, losing Ollie Soames, caught behind off Jamie Overton for a duck.

Somerset won the toss and elected to bat first.

Before play got underway, a minute’s silence was held for Somerset Chairman, Charles Clark who passed away recently. This was impeccably observed by the crowd of nearly 3000.

Hampshire made an early breakthrough with the total on 18 when Azhar Ali was trapped lbw by Abbott for 12.

Abell showed good judgement as he and Hildreth saw off the new ball and laid the foundation for the biggest stand of the day.

Hildreth looked in prime form from the start and went to fifty off 78 balls, with seven fours. By lunch, he and Abell had taken the total of 98 for one.

Abell was content to play the supporting role as Hildreth continued to prosper after the interval, bringing up his 45th First Class century with a six over deep square from leg-spinner Mason Crane, who struggled for any semblance of control.

Abell went to a watchful half-century from 126 balls, with five fours.

With the score on 196, Hildreth was struck a blow on the helmet by Fidel Edwards, who worked up good pace from the River End. The next ball was also short and the batsman pulled to short mid-wicket where Keith Barker took a good diving catch.

Abell fell with the total on 237, edging Abbott to first slip and at tea it was 289 for three.

Banton and Bartlett then demonstrated their potential with a stand of 116 off 128 balls, both exuding confidence, before Banton fell lbw to James Fuller for 79.

Steve Davies departed cheaply to Fuller and the second new ball was taken at 379 for five.

Abbott then removed Lewis Gregory (25) before Bartlett became a second victim for Edwards, having contributed an impressive 68.

Abbott then claimed the scalps of Jamie Overton, Tim Groenewald and Jack Leach.

Hampshire had substitute fielder Aneurin Donald keeping wicket for much of the day after Tom Alsop suffered a hamstring injury during the morning session. Donald was later replaced by specialist keeper Lewis McManus, who had been summoned to the ground.

During the lunch interval Azhar Ali was presented with his Somerset county cap by Marcus Trescothick.

At the close of play James Hildreth said: “It’s always nice to score a century. Our top order know we haven’t got enough runs this season and it goes with the territory that when that happens you get criticised. That’s part of the game.

“Tom Abell was brilliant today and then George Bartlett and Tom Banton came in and made some good contributions as well.

“Kyle Abbott bowled well, and the ball was swinging. It started to do a bit more with the second new ball for them, and then it started to do a bit when we bowled tonight. We got that bonus wicket and there was a bit of a nip there, so it will be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow.

“I am pretty confident with where we are at the end of the day because the way our bowling attack has been performing this year has been excellent.”

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