Dawson's grit defies Warwickshire's strong push

Hampshire 202 (McLaren 85, Barker 5-53) and 185 for 5 (Dawson 50*) drew with Warwickshire 360 (Bell 174, Woakes 66)

Ian Bell extended his innings to 174 © Getty Images

When hands were shaken at 5.52pm, both teams, you sense, left sunny Southampton satisfied; Warwickshire, shorn of the services of the hamstrung – although not seriously – Chris Woakes, have shown off their Championship credentials, even if three days was not long enough to force a result.

Hampshire, also without the services of an England bowler, Reece Topley – who will miss six to eight weeks with a broken hand – will be delighted to have battled through and survived a considerable test from Warwickshire’s bowling attack. Belief will have grown that they can survive once again.

Warwickshire, who ended with 12 points to Hampshire’s nine, always looked they could force a result, and often looked like they would. But Hampshire dug in and, eventually, after Hampshire’s top four fell in an hour before tea, and Sean Ervine gave his wicket away shortly afterwards, Liam Dawson and Adam Wheater proved stoic enough foes.

In conditions far more benign than on the opening day, and on a pitch still playing true, each of Warwickshire’s four standing bowlers provided utterly distinct threats. The absent crosswind significantly reduced Keith Barker’s inswing, but he still found enough to consistently trouble the batsmen.

Rikki Clarke nagged, nagged and nagged again, while Boyd Rankin was awkward as ever, especially when bowling in tandem with Jeetan Patel, who provided a masterclass in probing finger spin, and could twice have had James Vince leg before to go with the wicket of Will Smith. Dawson, who is highly rated by England and scrapped hard with the bat having bowled solidly if unspectacularly throughout this match, will be a better bowler for his front-row seat to Patel, who was simply relentless in his accuracy.

Earlier, Ian Bell, in adding 44 to his overnight 130, proved that he still possesses all five gears and a considerable degree of inventiveness, too. In reaching his century on Tuesday, Bell scored eight boundaries. On Wednesday morning, however, the ball veritably whistled to the fence the same numbers of times, and in far more varied directions.

There were a trio of vintage cover drives and his favourite upper-cut off the seamers, and the full repertoire against Dawson’s consistent left-arm orthodox: a sweep that split too men in the deep, a deft reverse-sweep that beat the sprinting deep-point, a slog-sweep and, finally, the best of the lot, a perfect drive that had mid-on sprawling to his left. Eventually, he rather lost James Tomlinson in the flight, and his swirling slog – pushing for a fifth bonus point – was caught well by James Vince at mid-on.

Warwickshire’s innings petered out when Bell departed, with Patel and Rankin falling to slogs as they missed a final batting point and set off on their eventually futile pursuit of a win.

Hampshire’s batting is shallow, but had the depth to earn them five points here. Tom Alsop dealt dutifully with Patel, and was desperately unlucky to be caught brilliantly at short leg by Sam Hain off Rankin. Vince, with an opportunity to stake a claim for one of England’s middle order spots – as Bell had so emphatically earlier in the match – looked rusty, outfoxed by Patel and falling to the first ball of a new Clarke spell. Ervine took the game to Warwickshire in ugly style, and one wafty swipe outside off too many saw him become Barker’s seventh wicket of the match.

Still 55 adrift and with plenty at stake, Wheater joined Dawson and Hampshire’s hatches were battened down. There was rough outside off stump, a hoard of men round the bat, and Dawson’s untroubled half-century, the completion of which saw the end of the game, was a considerable effort. He has proved all week that he has an enviable appetite for a scrap, and Hampshire will need it all season.

Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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