Bowlers dominate as Middlesex and Hampshire battle
- Credit: PA
Hampshire captain James Vince and Middlesex batsman Nick Gubbins produced dogged half-centuries for their respective sides as wickets clattered around them on a gloomy second day at Lord's.
Gubbins resisted for more than three hours to make 51 and scramble the hosts to 172, despite Kyle Abbott's six for 44.
Hampshire were in the mire at nine for three in reply thanks to two wickets for Ethan Bamber, but Vince's determined 62 saw the visitors reach 131 for seven when bad light drove the players from the field.
Abbott took just eight balls to add to his three wickets of the previous day when he trapped John Simpson lbw, the wicketkeeper unable to add to his overnight score of 20.
When Mohammad Abbas removed Martin Andersson and James Harris in quick succession it looked like Groundhog Day for Middlesex's brittle batting line-up at 100 for seven.
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Some respectability was reached courtesy of a stand of 53 between Gubbins and youngster Blake Cullen for the eighth wicket.
Gubbins mixed dogged defence with a couple of savage pulls to reach 50 for the fourth time this season in just over three hours, but was bowled shortly afterwards trying to leave another testing delivery from Abbas.
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Abbott then returned to have Cullen caught at slip for an excellent 27 before trapping Bamber lbw to complete his six-wicket haul.
The home side needed quick wickets and Bamber soon obliged, bowling Ian Holland for a duck with a beauty which came back down the hill through bat and pad to kiss the off stump.
Bamber struck again in his next over when he had Joe Weatherley caught at slip from an inside edge onto the pad, though the opener clearly felt he had made no contact.
When Tim Murtagh removed Tom Alsop lbw with the first ball of the next over Hampshire, dismissed for 79 and 92 in the first innings of their last two matches were in disarray.
James Harris would later account for Sam Northeast, while Liam Dawson slashed Murtagh to Robbie White at slip and Bamber claimed a third scalp pinning Lewis McManus lbw as Hampshire crashed to 73 for six.
Through it all however Vince stood firm. He was far from his fluent best, surviving a plethora of play and misses, but produced a trademark cover drive, one of seven fours in a 101-ball half-century.
Keith Barker helped by raising a fifty stand in 82 balls, but Cullen castled Vince before the light closed in to leave the game in the balance.
Middlesex seamer Cullen, who took his first Championship wicket dismissing James Vince, said: "It was a handy one to get this evening. I just managed to get it to nip back up the slope and take the off-stump which I was looking to do. I'm really happy to get him.
"It's helped the team out a lot because tomorrow morning I think he could have caused a bit of trouble for us.
"Nick played very well this morning and it's a shame he couldn't kick on. It was nice to have a bit of a partnership with him and to make a few under that pressure. It gave me a bit of energy and confidence to go out there with the ball and see what I could do."