Abbott burst puts Middlesex on back foot

Hampshire's Kyle Abbott points the ball towards the crowd as he leaves the field, after taking seven

Hampshire's Kyle Abbott points the ball towards the crowd as he leaves the field, after taking seven wickets in the innings, breaking the Hampshire record during day three of the Specsavers County Championship division one match at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Kyle Abbott’s three-wicket burst gave Hampshire the upper hand as they reduced Middlesex to 90 for four on day one of their rain-delayed LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Lord’s.

Abbott, who had a spell at Middlesex in 2015, claimed a trio of scalps in quick succession – including a first-ball duck for home skipper Peter Handscomb – when play finally began at 4.15pm, following a lengthy wait due to the wet weather.

Openers Sam Robson and Jack Davies provided Middlesex with a solid platform, sharing a partnership of 33 after James Vince won the toss and asked them to bat.

But the Seaxes then slumped to 56 for four before Nick Gubbins and John Simpson steered them to stumps without further damage.

Robson and Davies did well to see off the initial salvo from Keith Barker, who extracted plenty of bounce, and Mohammad Abbas – Middlesex’s nemesis with nine wickets when they crashed to a 249-run loss at the Ageas Bowl last month.

The Pakistan seamer beat the bat several times, but was unable to achieve a breakthrough in his opening spell and it took Hampshire until the 18th over to make inroads courtesy of Abbott.

Robson had already survived a sharp chance off the former South Africa seamer, carving a widish delivery towards point, where Tom Alsop, reaching above his head, could not cling on.

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But Abbott got his man in his next over for 20, prodding forward to an outswinger and Liam Dawson scooped up the catch at second slip.

Davies – replacing the out-of-form Max Holden for only his second first-class appearance – showed plenty of promise in his innings of 24, compiled during more than an hour and a half at the crease.

The 21-year-old left-hander flicked Brad Wheal neatly off his pads to the boundary – but the next delivery proved to be his last, edging it into the reliable hands of Dawson.

Handscomb’s dismal run of form continued – his first six innings for Middlesex have realised just 31, including three ducks – as he misjudged his first ball from Abbott, which clipped off stump.

Abbott then took out Robbie White’s off stump in more eye-catching fashion during his next over, but Gubbins – who got away with a couple of slashes through the slips – and Simpson saw Middlesex through to the close.