Dawson steels himself with crucial century

Hampshire 304 for 4 (Dawson 116, Wheater 89*, Alsop 50) v Warwickshire

Liam Dawson, an England matchwinner last week, rallied to his county's cause as Hampshire enjoyed a welcome day of prosperity as they again try to find a way to preserve their Division One place. The skills required to influence an international T20 differ hugely from those demanded by four-day Championship cricket but confidence is a transferable factor whatever the discipline.

The 26-year-old allrounder made his mark with the ball as England beat Sri Lanka, taking 3 for 27 on his senior international debut on his home Southampton ground. His impact on the first day here was with the bat, where his first century of the season helped Hampshire reach a strong position. Called up for England Lions in between, it has been a good few days for him.

Hampshire desperately need a win. They escaped relegation by two points last season and went into this match at the bottom of the Division One table, 23 points from safety. Win here, though, and they might have a chance of beating the drop again. Nottinghamshire, whom they meet at Trent Bridge next month, have played two matches more. Moreover, it was by winning at Trent Bridge on the last day that Hampshire clinched survival.

On a flat pitch on which he may have an important role to play with the ball as the match progresses, Dawson encountered few difficult moments until he was out, struck in front by Keith Barker not long after Warwickshire had taken the second new ball, playing across one that shaped back in. Having faced precisely 200 balls, he had hit 13 fours and one six, coming out best in a prolonged battle with Jeetan Patel, Warwickshire's canny offspinner.

"It's a pretty flat pitch but you still have to get the runs and I'm happy to have helped put us in with a chance of making a big score," Dawson said.

"Playing for England in a T20 is very different from four-day cricket and although you gain confidence from playing well in any format I find red-ball cricket harder, to be honest. It is a test of concentration over long periods so it is very pleasing to come out with a hundred today."

Dawson shared partnerships of 81 with 20-year-old Tom Alsop for the third wicket and 155 with Adam Wheater for the fourth. Wheater closed unbeaten on 89 and after pulling Barker for a meaty six and might have completed a century of his own had the dismissal of Dawson not forced him to switch to conservation mode for the day's closing overs.

The left-hander Alsop, playing in only his ninth first-class match, completed an attractive fifty before failing in his attempt to attack Josh Poysden, Warwickshire's rookie legspinner, the ball flying off the top edge to Patel at mid-off as he tried to hit over midwicket.

The runs added by the three combined made up for a somewhat stodgy start by Hampshire, who had crawled to just 63 from almost 28 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat first. Jimmy Adams, in particular, found it hard to make progress against Patel, who was bowling from as early as the sixth over and opened with four consecutive maidens.

Adams had flicked a ball from Barker off his legs for four in the first over of the match but thereafter scored only two more runs from 76 deliveries. He then drew ironic applause from spectators by hitting consecutive boundaries off Patel, only to be out in the next over, driving straight to Ian Bell at midwicket.

Like Hampshire, third-placed Warwickshire have gone in with two spinners in an unchanged side from the one that beat Surrey handsomely at Guildford last week, when Patel took five wickets in each innings.

It was particularly unfortunate, then, that they should lose fast bowler Boyd Rankin after the Irishman was forced off the field with a back problem after bowling just one over, leaving Barker and Rikki Clarke as their only pace options. Warwickshire are hopeful that Rankin will be fit to bowl in the second innings.

Hampshire have not many fast bowlers fit even to be considered for selection. Ryan McLaren has joined James Tomlinson, Reece Topley, Fidel Edwards, Chris Wood and Ryan Stevenson among six currently sidelined, while Tino Best has been left out to be kept fresh for the critical fixture against Surrey at the Ageas Bowl next week.