Abbott's all-round show sets up Hampshire's victory push
Worcestershire 211 (Cox 65, Barnard 40) and 59 for 3 require a further 265 runs to beat Hampshire 290 (Vince 75, Berg 75*, Leach 4-42) and 244 (Abbott 51, Leach 3-55)
Kyle Abbott mastered both bat and ball for Hampshire during a rain-affected third day of their Specsavers County Championship with Worcestershire.
Abbott scored an impressive half century in the morning before striking three times either side of a prolonged break to leave his team needing seven wickets on the final day, with Worcestershire requiring 265 runs to win.
Abbott took 60 wickets and scored a useful 418 Championship runs in his debut campaign after joining Hampshire as a Kolpak. And a similarly prosperous season could be in store, with six wickets and 51 runs already chalked up in the opening fixture of 2018.
After running our Hashim Amla the previous day, Abbott admitted he felt he had work to do.
"To be honest I lost a little bit of sleep last night running out the best batsman in the world but I came out this morning with a little bit of fire in my belly," he said.
There's plenty in that wicket. It's going up and down, it's still nibbling about. I think it would take a big effort. Nothing's impossible but I still think we've got the ball firmly in our court.
"I wasn't in the greatest rhythm to be quite honest, I struggled a bit. The run ups are still a bit wet and now and then you just slip on the crease and lose your body position a bit."
Resuming on four in the morning, Abbott owed his side with the bat having suffered a golden duck in the first innings before running out well-set debutant, and former South African teammate, Hashim Amla the previous evening.
The name of the game for Worcestershire was grab the two early wickets and set about a chase, but that was not to happen. Abbott, alongside Brad Wheal, batted in supreme comfort - with the ball offering very little for the Worcestershire bowlers despite a green-tinged wicket and thick grey skies.
The pair proceeded to keep pushing Hampshire's lead, which started the day 242 runs ahead, with crunching drives and delicate flicks off the legs the regular method of scoring.
Abbott and Wheal added 72-runs for the ninth wicket before the latter edged Ed Barnard to Joe Clarke at second slip - scoring his 100th first-class run and his highest professional score of 19.
Abbott continued and reached his seventh first-class half century from 69 balls - along with adding another 15 runs with Fidel Edwards. But he ended the innings with an attempted drive, which flew to George Rhodes at first slip -Hampshire reaching 244 and setting their visitors 324 runs to win.
In a tricky seven over spell before lunch, Abbott struck to dismiss Brett D'Oliviera - the opener stuck on the crease to an in-ducker. Progress was then stunted by a prolonged rain break - which forced play to be suspended for the entirety of the afternoon session and most of the evening.
In total 51 overs had been lost to set up a tricky 16 over spell for the Worcestershire batsman. And so it proved when man-of-the-day Abbott struck just five balls after the resumption, as he created an angle to slam into Tom Fell's off-stump.
Daryl Mitchell and Clarke appeared to have bedded down with a riskless 32 run stand before Abbott rapped the latter on the pads. Mitchell, who ended on 34 not out, was assisted to the close by nightwatchman Josh Tongue.