Pothas and Ervine drive Hampshire

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Nic Pothas

Nic Pothas guided Hampshire from 123 for five to 281 for six, but fell 13 short of a ton against Somerset at the Rose Bowl

A sixth-wicket stand of 158 between Nic Pothas and Sean Ervine was the solitary bright spot for Hampshire as they turned in another spluttering batting display to reach 281 for seven on the first day of their LV= County Championship match with Somerset at the Rose Bowl.

Hants, who have made their worst start to a domestic season for 104 years, began badly in slightly overcast conditions as Somerset left-armer Charl Willoughby nipped out in-form openers Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams with the score at just 18.

Liam Dawson, back in Hants’ four-day side and promoted to bat at three, steadied the ship in partnership with Neil McKenzie, but the going was sluggish at best as the pair tried to build a foundation for the innings.

After cautiously playing his way in and appearing set, Dawson fell lbw to leg-spinner Michael Munday, leaving Hants floundering at 64 for three.

Fellow youngster James Vince came to the crease, but after playing with the sort of composure which has seen him marked as a star of the future, a lapse in concentration saw him suffer a similar fate to Dawson, as he was rushed out by Willoughby when seemingly well set on 26.

McKenzie added just 10 in partnership with Pothas, before falling two runs short of what would have been a battling half-century, leaving Hants in danger of folding completely at 123 for five, with Pothas and the incoming Ervine the last recognised batsmen.

Perhaps spurred by the difficulties experienced by their more circumspect peers, Pothas and Ervine swapped a timid approach for one dominated by a fluency and confidence which belied Hants perilous position.

Leg-spinner Munday was treated with particular disdain as Ervine and Pothas wracked up a flurry of boundaries – including four sixes between them.

Their controlled hitting and powerful running between the wickets wrestled the initiative away from Somerset, who hitherto had waltzed into the ascendancy thanks to some precise bowling.

But with the close looming and the light descending, Somerset struck with two late blows to ensure they had the better of the day’s spoils.

First Pothas was caught off Ben Phillips just 13 runs short of what would have been a richly deserved ton, before new batsman Dominic Cork – still clearly shaking new-season ring rust from his ageing body – also held off veteran seamer Phillips for an eight-ball duck.

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