Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Middlesex Group 2 2021

Hampshire 319 (Holland 64, Northeast 63, Abbott 58) and 204 for 2 (Northeast 99 *, Holland 90 *) lead Middlesex 79 (Abbas 6-11) by 444 tracks

About an hour into the second morning of this game, Middlesex bowlers were preparing to step foot in the locker room in recognition of a hard job well done. Then came the inspired madness of Mohammad Abbas, a sickening feeling of shattered prejudices and the desperate rush for punching clothes. Abbas assessed the pitch on his home debut, won a seven-ball hat trick and had a five-for-one before the end of his third, as Hampshire abruptly took control.

Middlesex started and ended the day on the pitch, with the only major difference being that they were now in hock at nearly 450 points after Hampshire refused to apply the follow-up. Sam Northeast and Ian Holland added a two-century partnership serenely, both starting in the late ’90s as the home attack seized its chance to recharge. Abbas might sound more like an accountant than a strike player, but you don’t have to have instincts of either to know which team the sums are in favor of from. here.

However, he is surely the strike bowler, and the Pakistani seaman demolished any idea that this could be a close fight in the 5.5-hour space before lunch, as Middlesex fell to 14-5 in response to the 319 of Hampshire. Abbas ended his workday with hypnotic numbers of 11-6-11-6, as Middlesex were eventually rounded up to 79; only three batsmen managed to double the numbers, with Nathan Sowter’s 24 not coming out of No.9, the highest score in innings.

Ramadan began this week, and although Abbas is not currently fasting, he said his “big day” was influenced by the Islamic holy month. At 31, it was the first hat-trick in his senior career.

“I took two wickets and before playing for my third wicket, I realized that Ramadan was underway and that it is lucky for us, and that Friday is a lucky day for me”, did he declare. “I played here before when I was with Pakistan and the pitch had something for me, and I bowled in the right areas.”

Hampshire’s new overseas signing, currently out of favor with Pakistani selectors, has repeatedly shown the benefit not to underestimate his irregular gait and style at 78 mph. A two-season stint with Leicestershire in 2018 and 2019 gave 79 wickets at 20.67 and, although a shoulder injury may have hampered his effectiveness at the Test level, he emphatically reaffirmed his qualities as a county operator.

That was the definition of a controlled explosion, as Abbas blew up the Middlesex First Order with five wickets in 13 balls. The subtlety of his methods was confirmed by the fact that each wicket-take delivery was roughly in the same area, but confused the batsmen in various ways.

Max Holden was the first to go, jumping off the crease to reduce angles in his favor, only to lead one edge to the third slide. Nick Gubbins, another southpaw, was pinned down by one who came back on him (although there was a suspicion he could have kicked the outside leg); then, with Abbas’ next first ball, Stevie Eskinazi was sucked up the length and spat out by the movement of the seam – a feathered outer edge giving the bowler his moment.

He wasn’t finished there either, as the awkward Middlesex hour before lunch turned into a defining meltdown. Both Robbie White and Martin Andersson were trapped in front of their stumps by duckers – White playing forward, Andersson on the back – to complete a five for which caused Twitter scorers and statisticians to check their databases. For the record, Abbas’s efforts fell just under Ryan Patel’s five-of-11 balls at Guildford in 2018, while Jacques Kallis won a five-for-12 test against Bangladesh in 2002.

Abbas had all six wickets to die for when Sam Robson went shortly after lunch – on the verge of slipping as the bowler reduced his length in response to Robson’s deliberate efforts to advance – ahead of match-winning Kyle Abbott 17 wickets on its previous one. First-class appearance at the Ageas Bowl, finally got in on the action, as Toby Roland-Jones cut a record in his stumps.

Sowter and John Simpson managed to double the score, meaning it was ultimately only Middlesex’s lowest total since being sacked for 75 at Hove two summers ago, before Brad Wheal cleaned up the sleeves with three inexpensive wickets.

Ambushed by Abbas, Middlesex felt taken aback – and with Hampshire deciding to beat again with a 240 lead, they had plenty of time to reflect on their shortcomings. Roland-Jones and Ethan Bamber struck early to give Middlesex a 2-for-2 glow, but the third-wicket pair North East and Holland stabilized Hampshire before firmly pressing, both passing 50 for the second times in the game to consolidate a position that was almost impregnable.

The quality of Middlesex’s attack had apparently kept the home beaters in check on day one, but, in a harbinger of what was to come, more kicks were needed on the second morning to complete the opening innings. from Hampshire. Roland-Jones, Bamber, and Steven Finn asked plenty of questions – though none came close to the kind of unanswered spell Abbas provided – and they were put to work until the end, with Finn finishing with 4 for 96. , as Abbott’s half-century nugget took Hampshire past 300 for a third bonus point, and a position that would soon be revealed as dominant.

Alan Gardner is associate editor of ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick