County Championship: Worcestershire set 324 to win by Hampshire

Kyle Abbott hit eight fours in his 51 off 74 balls for Hampshire
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl (day three):
Hampshire 290 & 244: Abbott 51; Leach 3-55
Worcestershire 211 & 59-3: Mitchell 34*; Abbott 3-27
Worcestershire (4 pts) need another 265 runs to beat Hampshire (6 pts)
Scorecard

Worcestershire require another 265 runs to beat Hampshire on the final day with seven wickets left, after a rain-affected third day at Southampton.

Hampshire added another 81 to their overnight score of 163-8 thanks to Kyle Abbott’s fine 51, as they were bowled out for 244 to leave a target of 324.

Worcestershire lost Brett D’Oliveira to Abbott before a five-hour rain delay.

Play resumed at 17:45 BST and Abbott removed Tom Fell and Joe Clarke, with the visitors closing on 59-3.

Clarke was pinned lbw by the former South Africa seamer shortly before stumps to dent Worcestershire’s chances of pulling off an unlikely victory.

Despite losing so much time on day three, there should be a full three sessions of play on Monday with the weather forecast in Southampton looking dry and sunny.

Worcestershire’s remaining batsmen can take some heart from how easy Abbott and number 10 Brad Wheal made batting look under clearer skies in the morning session.

Wheal surpassed his first-class best of 18 before he was dismissed by Ed Barnard for 19, and Barnard finished the innings when former Pears paceman Abbott nicked him to slip.

Pears opener Daryl Mitchell (34 not out) dug in during a challenging final hour, but the loss of Fell and Clarke leaves Hampshire strong favourites.

Hampshire seamer Kyle Abbott:

“It goes without saying we’re in a pretty strong position. There are only two results from here so we’ll look to make early inroads.

“Once we pick up a couple it’s going to pick up pretty quickly for us. Four-day cricket usually does on the fourth day.

“Nothing’s impossible but I still think we’ve got the ball firmly in our court. Realistically, we’d have to bowl quite poorly. There’s plenty in that wicket.”

Worcestershire all-rounder Ed Barnard:

“It has been topsy-turvy the whole game but we are probably a little bit disappointed with the way they got away from us this morning.

“Kyle obviously batted very well for them. Tails have got stronger over the last couple of years. Kyle is a Test cricketer so we can’t be too disappointed.

“We’ve got a bit of a start and Daryl Mitchell is still there. Hopefully he can go big. He’s scored a lot of first-class runs and we still have plenty of batting to go around him.”

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