A five-wicket evening session has given Hampshire the advantage heading into tomorrow’s final day at the Ageas Bowl.
Unbeaten Yorkshire claimed a lead of 18 during the latter stages of the third afternoon in this LV= Insurance County Championship fixture, only to lose all of their top order after tea on the way to a close of play score of 101-5 from 44 overs, a lead of 119.
All results remain realistic, though Hampshire are the team with their tails up after Keith Barker’s 3-22, including the wicket of Harry Brook for a season low score of 10.
Hampshire, replying to 428, advanced their first innings from 225-4 overnight to 410 all out, including Jordan Thompson’s 4-68 from 17.1 overs.
Yorkshire, who have so far drawn five and won once this season, chipped away at the wickets during the first two sessions.
But they were ultimately frustrated by the hosts’ adding 77 for the last two wickets, including a ninth-wicket partnership of 74 between seamers James Fuller and Kyle Abbott.
Starting the shift in momentum, Fuller hit three sixes in 37 and Abbott one in 38 before both holing out on the leg-side boundary off Thompson’s bowling in the glare of the glorious Southampton sunshine.
Thompson had claimed the first two Hampshire wickets on day two before adding the last two to leave Yorkshire with a session and a half of batting to do before close and a lead of only 18.
Former South Africa Test seamer Abbott added another other wicket to left-armer Barker’s trio, as did Brad Wheal. And it means Harry Duke and Dom Bess will begin day four unbeaten on 17 and three respectively.
Of course, Yorkshire can still claim their second Division One win of 2022 even if they get bowled out cheaper than they would like. Although the pitch hasn’t deteriorated as much as expected and remains decent for batting, there are signs of variable bounce.
At close on day two, off-spinner Bess had said that Yorkshire were aiming to strike once with the old ball before the new one was taken 11 overs into the day. From there, they could make inroads.
In that respect, the first half of the day went according to plan as Hampshire were reduced to 333-8 shortly after lunch.
Half-centurions Liam Dawson and Ben Brown fell during the morning against the old and new balls respectively.
Dawson edged a drive at the off-spin of Bess to Adam Lyth at slip for 61, leaving Hampshire 229-5 in the 75th over, the sixth of the morning.
Brown, for 83, later felt for one outside off-stump against left-arm quick Drakes and edged to Will Fraine fielding in the same position – 268-6 in the 87th.
Matthew Revis had Aneurin Donald (30) lbw in the third over of the afternoon as Hampshire fell to 325-7 in the 102nd before Bess bowled Barker reverse sweeping for 38 – 333-8 in the 105th.
At that stage, Yorkshire led by 95. Two quick wickets and the possibility of forcing a victory was realistic.
However, Abbott and Fuller united in counter-attacking fashion to bat their side to safety. Fuller hit Bess down the ground and over long-on for two sixes in two balls at one point.
Yorkshire did not have things easy in the field again, with fortune an enemy.
For example, two Abbott edges off Steve Patterson dropped just short of Lyth at second slip, with the second needing the intervention of umpires, who ruled the South African – 15 at the time – not out. That would have left the score at 368-9.
Instead, it was only with Hampshire on 407 that their ninth wicket fell, shortly followed by the 10th, as Abbott pulled Thompson out to deep square-leg before Fuller clipped the same bowler out to deep mid-wicket – 410 all out inside 119 overs.
Yorkshire reached 22-0 in 12 overs at tea before losing openers George Hill and Lyth to start a sticky evening session.
Hill pushed at Barker and edged to James Vince at first slip, falling for 17 as the score fell to 36-1 in the 19th. That became 55-2 in the 25th over when Lyth edged the same bowler behind for 22.
Will Fraine pulled Abbott for six over square-leg to move into double figures, though it wasn’t long before he had departed.
First, though, Brook jammed a full ball back onto his stumps from Barker as the first of two wickets in five balls, with Fraine undone by extra bounce from Abbott on 13 and edging behind to a grateful Brown as the score became 67-4 in the 30th over, a lead of 85.
Matthew Waite then clipped Brad Wheal to square-leg, where Fuller took a smart diving catch as the score fell to 81-5 in the 35th.
Duke and Bess then saw Yorkshire through to the end of the day without further alarm.
It says a lot about the quality of Yorkshire’s batting so far this season that this has been the first sign of significant danger, and we are in the seventh game.
Even against Lancashire when forced to follow-on at Headingley last month, they made 379 all out in the first innings.
Fingers crossed, they can turn things back in their favour tomorrow.