Hampshire 279 for 7 (Weatherley 98, Northeast 51) lead Middlesex 252 by 27 runs
All-rounder Liam Dawson was stretchered off with a suspected Achilles injury to mar a productive day for Hampshire in their Bob Willis Trophy match against Middlesex at Radlett.
The 30-year-old, who was part of England’s white-ball squad for their recent ODI series against Ireland, fell awkwardly while batting during the final session and had to be carried from the field.
Dawson’s attacking knock of 43 had already helped Hampshire to take a first-innings lead when he crumpled to the ground, visibly in pain after playing a defensive shot against Tom Helm.
There was a 15-minute delay while Dawson received treatment at the wicket, but it was already evident he would be unable to continue.
Despite that setback, the visitors ended the second day in a strong position, with opener Joe Weatherley falling just two short of what would have been his second first-class century and captain Sam Northeast hitting 51 as they dominated the Middlesex bowling.
Hampshire had appeared set for an uphill battle when they lost Tom Alsop (4) in the third over of the day, the left-hander edging a rising delivery from Tom Helm as John Simpson leapt to take the catch.
That left the visitors in an unsteady position at 28 for 3 – and it could have been worse as both Weatherley and Northeast survived chances to second slip before their partnership had really been established.
Northeast’s, a fast thick edge when he had 14 to his name, would have been a magnificent catch by Nathan Sowter – but the opportunity for the same fielder to remove Weatherley off the bowling of James Harris was altogether more routine.
The pair made Middlesex pay as they accumulated a fourth-wicket partnership of 139, with Weatherley stroking a midwicket boundary off Tim Murtagh (2 for 49) to raise his half-century off 157 balls.
The skipper, meanwhile, also reached his 50 in style, slamming Helm for four through the covers – but he departed in the next over after left-arm spinner Thilan Wallalawita returned for his second spell of the day.
Wallalawita’s second delivery tempted Northeast to cut, but the ball sailed towards gully, where Sowter – now relocated from second slip – gathered the catch safely.
Weatherley, who went to tea on 90, had rarely looked in anything resembling a hurry during the first two sessions, but he resumed in attacking mode, driving Murtagh’s first two balls of the evening for boundaries to advance to 98.
However, the batsman would get no further as he was adjudged leg before in Murtagh’s next over, attempting to flick a straight ball off his pads.
But Middlesex were unable to capitalise on the breakthrough as Dawson maintained the tempo, hooking Harris for successive fours and putting on 51 for the sixth wicket with Ian Holland.
Holland, who had taken 20 deliveries to get off the mark, eventually contributed a breezy 22 to steer his side past the Seaxes’ first-innings total before Murtagh had him caught in the slips.
That, along with Dawson’s injury, slowed Hampshire’s momentum and they also lost Harry Came (5), lbw to Sowter in the penultimate over as they reached stumps 27 runs ahead of their hosts.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo