Hampshire finally have the feel of champions
Hampshire 357 and 175 for 3 (Adams 91) lead Glamorgan 172 (Wallace 51, Wood 4-42) by 360 runs
On an edgy first day, Hampshire players were closely monitoring the situation at Chelmsford, Needing a favour from season-long rivals Worcestershire. On the second, they marched on, knowing they had played ruthlessly enough not only to be in charge of their own promotion fate, but also had the chance to finish the season as champions.
This should not come as much of a surprise. The Ageas Bowl is a ground that, while part scaffolding and lacking in adequate transport links, will soon be a fine ground, worthy of Test cricket. On the field, they have led the way in limited-overs cricket. All that has been missing in the last three years has been a place among the elite in the four-day game. That looks like being rectified soon enough.
The sun shone brighter on the second day, through a ring of clouds that occupied the periphery of Sophia Gardens. It suggested easier batting conditions. And, while only three Glamorgan wickets fell in the first session, the loss of Will Bragg, Jacques Rudolph and Chris Cooke, all of whom have amassed more than 800 runs this season, meant that Hampshire's bowlers had made a considerable dent.
Just nine balls into the hosts' first innings, Matt Coles bowled Bragg with just two on the board. Glamorgan skipper Mark Wallace, batting in his 215th consecutive Championship game, joined Rudolph, and both looked comfortable as they took the score to 50 for 1.
It was at this point that Chris Wood rallied from a wayward start, with an over that showcased his white ball nous. After spending three overs serving up drive balls, Wood unleashed an unplayable yorker at the toes of Rudolph. To be fair to Rudolph, a lesser batsman might not have shuffled them out of the way as quickly as he did. Two balls later, Wood's natural arc and a touch of extra pace cut through the in-form Chris Cooke, for a duck.
By the beginning of the afternoon session, Wallace had forged another partnership with leading run-scorer Jim Allenby. Again it was Wood, this time leaving the timber be and squaring up Allenby with some sharp movement off the seam, with Will Smith taking the catch at gully.
A few balls, Wallace was raising his bat for a well-crafted half century - his fourth of the season - from 111 balls, featuring seven boundaries. However, Wood's stump lust resurfaced at the beginning of his next over when he found a bit of movement into the left-hander and knocked back middle.
The stump, maimed, followed Wallace back to the pavilion. A clear, unsponsored replacement stood, untroubled, for the remaining 17.2 overs of play, as Coles, Imran Tahir and Tomlinson took the remaining five wickets for just 53 runs.
David Lloyd, who dropped centurion James Vince on 47 at deep square leg in Hampshire's first innings, fell to the exact same short-ball trick, when Coles dug one short and Tom Alsop did what Lloyd could not on day one. Some forceful blows from Graham Wagg saw him become the fourth and final batsman to pass 20, as he was undone by a googly from Tahir that stayed a touch low.
When Hogan's attempted uppercut of Tomlinson found the hands of Ervine, Hampshire had a first innings lead of 185 and, after some consideration, decided against enforcing the follow-on. The logic was sound; rest up the bowlers and obtain an insurmountable lead while further demoralising the opposition, who have been in the field for four out of the six sessions so far. It is also in keeping with their plan going into the game which was to bat first and make the best use out of a deteriorating pitch.
Sharp running and the odd forced boundary - some pleasant, others agricultural - saw openers Jimmy Adams and Smith put on 79 for the first wicket inside 22 overs. While Smith fell to the impressive Allenby, whose 10 overs this evening cost just 18 runs, Adams motored on.
Joined by Vince in the 27th over, when Liam Dawson had been caught behind off Dean Cosker, he set about on a boundary hunt that took him past fifty for the ninth time this season. The last 10 overs of the day saw 57 runs added, giving Hampshire an overnight lead of 360.
Adams, however, will not be able to reconvene tomorrow, going six, four and out to Cosker to end his assault on 91. He looked annoyed when he trudged off, bat face firmly clasped around his hands, as if trying to squeeze the frustration away. At stumps he was in much better spirits, knowing his sides are a very quick runs and another 10 wickets away from promotion and, potentially, a title.