LANCASHIRE look to have the slight advantage in their must-win game against Hampshire at Aigburth after dismissing the visitors for just 143 in the first innings of what could be a thrilling Championship decider.

Just six-and-a-half points separated the top four teams in Division One at the start of play, with Hampshire in pole position and Warwickshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire hot on their heels.

But following an impressive opening day with the ball in Liverpool, Lancashire stuttered with the bat, closing on 25 for three after losing both Alex Davies and George Balderson to Mohammad Abbas’ accurate swing bowling.

The day begun well for the Red Rose, who having won the toss and inserted Hampshire, quickly reduced their opponents to one for one after Ian Holland was snaffled at short leg by Dane Vilas off Tom Bailey for just a single.

The second wicket pair of Joe Weatherley and Tom Alsop dug in diligently to compile a partnership of 42 before all-rounder Balderson entered the attack and removed Alsop who edged to Danny Lamb at second slip for 24.

One wicket quickly became two as Balderson enticed Nick Gubbins to edge his third ball through to wicketkeeper Davies without scoring, with Lancashire celebrating again when the former England under-19s skipper, who finished with figures of three for 21, ended Weatherley’s resistance with another nick to Davies, leaving Hampshire 48 for four.

A massive stroke of luck accounted for Liam Dawson, who departed after lunch for 10, when his drive was deflected onto the stumps by Bailey’s fingertips, before the key figure of James Vince was dismissed in the same over attempting a big drive which was edged through to Davies.

At this point the league leaders were 71 for six which became 91 for seven when Davies took a stunning catch down the leg side off Luke Wood to dismiss Keith Barker for nine.

Some resistance was badly needed and Felix Organ and Mason Crane provided it with the latter taking full advantage of being dropped on nought to help take Hampshire to 129 before Matt Parkinson claimed his first victim of the game with the dismissal of Organ, caught by Josh Bohannon, for 22.

Parkinson would go on to take the final two wickets to finish with three for nine, but his teammates failed to press home the advantage as Abbas bowled Davies for four and tempted Balderson to edge behind for five either side of Barker trapping Luke Wells in front without scoring.