Day two: Somerset 324-7 lead Hampshire 231 by 93 runs

James Hildreth hit his 43rd first class century to put Somerset in a strong position on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match against Hampshire at Taunton.

The 33-year-old batsman was unbeaten on 125 when bad light ended play, as his side posted 324 for seven in reply to Hampshire’s first innings total of 231, a lead of 93. Craig Overton contributed 80.

The visitors were inhibited by an injury to seamer Kyle Abbott, who turned an ankle while fielding and was unable to bowl until after tea, which was taken with Somerset 203 for five. Gareth Berg claimed four for 88.

The day began with Hampshire 198 for eight in their first innings. Brad Wheal finished unbeaten on 25 as they added 33, with Tim Groenewald and Overton taking the remaining two wickets.

Somerset had put ten on the board in reply when Abbott was injured fielding an on-drive from Renshaw and had to leave the field. That put extra pressure on Fidel Edwards, Wheal and Berg, who all stepped up to the challenge.

Edwards bowled Eddie Byrom on the back foot for ten with the total 39 and it was soon 40 for two as George Bartlett edged Wheal to Rilee Rossouw at first slip.

Renshaw uppercut an audacious six over backward point off Wheal before Berg had him taken in the slips by Jimmy Adams for 36. Tom Abell elected to pull his first ball, only to top-edge a catch to fine leg off Berg.

A key moment followed when Hildreth, on 24, was dropped by Edwards at mid-wicket off Berg. It would have been 71 for five had the straightforward chance been accepted.

"I was about to walk off when I cliipped the ball to mid-wicket because it was a pretty simple catch," said Hildreth. "But that's cricket and you have to make the most of it when things go your way."

Hildreth and Steve Davies took the score to 131 in the afternoon session before Davies retired hurt on 26, having been hit on the ankle by a ball from Edwards.

Lewis Gregory was bowled off an edge by Wheal trying to withdraw the bat and when Overton joined Hildreth the scoreboard read 134 for five.

The pair saw Somerset through to tea with the best batting of the innings, taking the total to 203. After the break Overton reached an impressive half-century off 58 balls, with 7 fours.

Hildreth played with customary freedom to record his 41st hundred for Somerset, made off 138 deliveries, with 13 boundaries. At times he made batting look easy, timing the ball sweetly all around the wicket.

Overton’s fine contribution ended when he played on to Berg, the ball after being dropped at gully by Adams. He and Hildreth had added 133 in 25.5 overs.

Davies added only seven to his score on returning before edging Berg to Adams at second slip. By then Somerset were 54 ahead.

Berg said: "If the catch offered by Hildreth had been taken we might have been looking at bowling Somerset out for 150 or 160. He played really well after that.

"When Kyle Abbott was injured we knew it would mean more work for the other bowlers, so it was great to see him come back and bowl ten overs after tea.

"I enjoy taking big wickets like the overseas player and captain so I was particularly pleased to dismiss Matt Renshaw and Tom Abell. Our position is critical because the pitch is still doing a bit for the bowlers and we need a good start tomorrow."

Jack Leach helped extend the advantage with some quality shots and by the time the light closed in with a possible 20 overs still available, Hildreth had faced 176 balls, extending his boundary count to 15.

Hildreth added "We need more runs because it is a pretty good pitch. But when Hampshire changed the ball during the afternoon it began to swing and their was also a bit of turn for their spinner so hopefully we can get a decent lead and put them under pressure.

"It's so easy batting with Craig Overton because he plays his shots and keeps the scoreboard moving. It was an important partnership for the team."