Mullaney rescues Notts after Tomlinson five-for
Hampshire 23 for 1 trail Nottinghamshire 270 by 247 runs
After an under-strength and under-par Durham lost by an innings here last week, Hampshire came armed with their own set of extenuating circumstances as Michael Carberry joined their roster of absentees, thanks to his selection for the England Lions match against the touring Bangladeshis in Derby on Wednesday.
Kabir Ali is out again because of knee trouble, Dimitri Mascarenhas is a couple of weeks from fitness after an Achilles injury, Simon Jones is not yet able to start and Ajantha Mendis, who was supposed to have arrived at the beginning of the season, is unlikely to appear before mid-July. Hardly any wonder, you might say, with such depleted bowling resources, that the pre-season forecasts of a lively Championship challenge are looking optimistic, although nobody, surely, was so pessimistic as to imagine four defeats in the first five matches.
Yet Nottinghamshire are not without their problems. Their captain, Chris Read, might reasonably argue that four wins from their first four matches represents an achievement deserving of even greater applause given that Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad have had one match each and nothing has been seen at all of Graeme Swann because of England duty.
Add to that injuries to Darren Pattinson, Luke Fletcher and Andre Adams and a late start, after two winter operations, by Charlie Shreck and Read's contention that his side have overcome difficult circumstances to lead the table is hard to oppose.
They face another Test here, with Hashim Amla back with South Africa and Mark Wagh, the most reliable of their top-order batsmen, given time off to take law exams. They probably felt they had done well to muster 270 after being asked to bat first on a tricky pitch.
Hampshire should have done better, however. Nottinghamshire had left a covering of grass on a pitch showing cracks in the hope that they could force another positive result in their favour and losing the toss was always likely to hand their opponents a chance.
And so it did. Soon, Dominic Cork and James Tomlinson were making the conditions work in their favour, finding movement off the pitch as well as the customary Trent Bridge swing.
Nottinghamshire's top order tends to be fragile at the best of times and within 40 minutes or so they were 29 for 4. Neil Edwards nicked an outswinger from Cork, Alex Hales - in for Wagh - lasted only six deliveries before he was trapped by an inswinger from Tomlinson, Samit Patel darted at another from Cork that moved away, Pothas diving to his right to take the catch, and Bilal Shafayat edged Tomlinson to first slip.
But Nottinghamshire are well used to poor starts and well equipped to deal with them. Their middle order is well stocked and Read has become happily accustomed to at least one amongst them taking a bold approach and it coming off.
This time, Ali Brown and Steven Mullaney, adding 78 for the fifth wicket, led the recovery process, to which Paul Franks later added value. The common theme was a readiness to take chances, eschewing the tentative approach in a way that no one executes better than Brown, with all his experience and craft, who looked perplexed to be given out leg before to Sean Ervine just before lunch, having hit 42 off 46 balls, including a pulled six off the same bowler.
Mullaney, who hit a century against Hampshire on his first-class debut for Nottinghamshire two weeks ago, pursued a similar approach. Now and again a false shot would suggest it was not going to take him much further and he was dropped at second slip just after he had completed an 87-ball 50.
But he kept it up, taking it out on David Balcombe in particular, before the 6' 4" seamer obtained revenge of a sort when Mullaney's ugly attempted cut flew off the edge to Pothas, costing him his wicket three runs short of another hundred.
Tomlinson, who bowled with discipline all day, took three of the last four wickets to finish with his first five-wicket haul of the season but not until Franks, coming into his own again as an allround talent, had plundered seven fours in an unbeaten 57.
Hampshire lost Liam Dawson, who fenced at Pattinson, in reaching 23 for 1 at the close, 247 runs behind.