Hampshire 525/8d beat Essex 164 274 by an innings and 87 runs
KYLE Abbott ripped through Essex’s tail as Hampshire secured an innings victory in the sides’ Specsavers County Championship opener at the Ageas Bowl.
South African Abbott celebrated figures of five for 77 with his powerful fast bowling.
Ravi Bopara had given Essex hope of pulling off an incredible draw with a century but once he fell Essex tumbled to an innings and 87-run defeat.
The win handed Hampshire a first match of the season win for a third year in a row – and just the 23rd time in their history – along with full bonus points.
Hampshire had begun the day with a simple equation – take five wickets in 90 overs, with Adam Wheater unable to bat due to the damaged thumb he sustained during the first day of the match.
But under thick grey skies and the floodlights, Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate negotiated the opening nine overs of the day – until Fidel Edwards was introduced to the attack.
West Indian paceman Edwards had taken five-wickets in the first innings with his searing speed and had grabbed one of the three wickets to fall the previous evening.
He needed just two deliveries to tickle the outside of ten Doeschate’s bat with a strong out-swinger.
Simon Harmer, who had departed for a golden duck earlier in the match, arrived at the wicket and frustrated Hampshire – who drifted with an old, lifeless ball.
Spinner Harmer was given one moment of worry by Edwards when he was struck on the helmet by a vicious Edwards bouncer, but continued quickly afterwards.
Bopara was the only Essex batsman who found going on a fairly flat wicket simple in both innings – with Edwards, Abbott, Gareth Berg and Keith Barker adhering to a straight, hard to put away, line.
During the first innings he had scored 37 while Essex collapsed and replicated his rear-guard again during the follow-on.
Bopara wasn’t one to be bogged down in the hunt to waste time as he played his natural game and continued to amass runs.
The former England all-rounder plodded along and reached his 26th first-class century before lunch.
He had needed 168 balls to reach the milestone, in an innings which included 12 boundaries.
But after lunch, and with Hampshire taking the second new ball immediately, Essex’s weak tail was rushed through.
Bopara’s vigil ended on 107 when he edged behind to Lewis McManus in the 84th over.
Harmer, who had reached a brave and time-sapping half-century in 118 deliveries, had added 111 with Bopara but fell soon after as Edwards had him lbw.
Edwards ended the match with figures of eight for 100, having taken three for 49 in the second innings.
Abbott then found the thick outside edge of Jamie Porter’s bat – with Liam Dawson diving brilliantly low to his right at second slip.
And Abbott completed the resounding victory when he castled Sam Cook.