Ervine and Pothas keep Hants in the hunt
Hampshire 281 for 7 v Somerset
A sixth-wicket stand of 158 between Nic Pothas and Sean Ervine was the solitary bright spot for Hampshire as they turned in another stuttering batting display to reach 281 for 7 on the first day of their County Championship match with Somerset at the Rose Bowl.
Hampshire, who have made their worst start to a domestic season for 104 years, got off to a dreadful start in slightly overcast conditions, as Somerset left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby nipped out in-form openers Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams with the score at just 18. Liam Dawson, back in Hampshire's four-day side and promoted to bat at No. 3, steadied the ship in partnership with Neil McKenzie, but the going was sluggish at best as the pair tried to build a foundation for the innings.
After cautiously playing his way in and appearing set, Dawson fell lbw to legspinner Michael Munday, to leave Hampshire floundering at 64 for 3. Fellow youngster James Vince came to the crease, but after playing with the sort of composure which has seen him marked as a star of the future, a lapse in concentration saw him suffer a similar fate to Dawson, as he was rushed out by Willoughby when seemingly well set on 26.
McKenzie added just ten in partnership with Pothas, before falling two runs short of what would have been a battling half century, leaving Hampshire in danger of folding completely at 123 for 5, with Pothas and the incoming Sean Ervine the last recognised batsmen.
Perhaps spurred by the difficulties experienced by their more circumspect peers, Pothas and Ervine swapped a timid approach for one dominated by a fluency and confidence which belied Hampshire's perilous position.
Legspinner Munday was treated with particular disdain as Ervine and Pothas racked up a flurry of boundaries - including four enormous sixes between them. Their controlled hitting and powerful running between the wickets wrestled the initiative away from Somerset, who hitherto had surged into the ascendancy thanks to their accurate bowling.
But with the close looming and the light descending, Somerset struck two late blows to ensure they had the better of the day's spoils. First Pothas fell to Ben Phillips just 13 runs short of what would have been a richly deserved ton, before new batsman Dominic Cork - still clearly shaking new-season ring rust from his aging body - also fell to veteran seamer Phillips for an eight-ball duck.