Somerset v Hampshire, Taunton, 4th day September 3, 2011

Somerset title hopes dented by heavy defeat

Hampshire 627 for 9 beat Somerset 204 and 362 by an innings and 61 runs

Somerset's Championship title hopes are hanging by a thread after an innings and 61-run defeat to Hampshire.

Stand-in captain Alfonso Thomas fell six runs short of his first century in English cricket for the hosts, but that was not enough to prevent Somerset from only picking up two points. Hampshire, meanwhile, are now in with a realistic chance of survival. They have won three of their last four matches and took 23 points from this clash.

Somerset resumed on 266 for seven, needing a further 157 to avoid an innings defeat. They held out for 21.2 overs before being bowled out for 362, Tahir claiming four for 125 and Dimitri Mascarenhas three for 70. Thomas was unbeaten on 79 overnight and added 15 before mistiming a drive off Imran Tahir to be caught at mid-on.

Somerset at least put up a fight under grey skies, with the weather holding out just enough to avoid the rain break they were hoping for. Thomas, who went in the previous day with his side 132 for six, faced 141 balls and hit 12 fours and a six. Murali Kartik hit 26 in an eighth-wicket stand of 50, while Steve Kirby managed 14.

There was even a late flourish from last man Charl Willoughby, who swung lustily to make an unbeaten 23, almost as many as he had managed in his previous 18 Championship innings this summer. Tahir took two of the three wickets to fall, finishing the match by having Kirby caught at point by Chris Wood.

Mascarenhas pinned Kartik lbw playing no shot, the fourth Somerset player to be dismissed shouldering arms in the innings. The home side badly missed injured skipper Marcus Trescothick and must now win their last two Championship fixtures away to Yorkshire and at home to Lancashire to have any chance of winning the title.

Hampshire face two of Somerset's title rivals to finish, being away to Lancashire and at home to Warwickshire.