KNOWING that victory would just about clinch their first County Championship title for 22 years provided the latest pressure in an on-going series for Warwickshire this summer. They still pouched full bowling points and the grand slam of all four titles moved a day nearer.
Tim Munton took his 500th career wicket, as Hampshire lost five for 10 runs in 46 balls, despite Paul Terry making a resolute 71 from 169 deliveries.
The first session was torture for Warwickshire, but they could hardly anticipate anything else from Hampshire, who are fourth from bottom and expected to be the stooges in this game.
This was a top-and-tail day, with Hampshire initially prospering, albeit at two-an-over, struggling and then reviving on a dark looking pitch which encouraged extensive first-day use of spin. With Shaun Udal and Rajesh Maru in the team, their long-term prospects may not be as flimsy as their scorecard seems. Come Friday, runs deposited here by Hampshire might be, in this context, vaguely as valuable for the other Championship contenders as Warwickshire's own investment in Brian Lara.
Tim Munton's 3 for 8 in 22 balls launched him towards not only a best season as he equalled his 78 first-class wickets of four years ago, but also hinted that a Warwickshire player might just find a place on the England A Tour to India.
Dourness ruled in the morning but Hampshire's 79 for 1 at lunch was a backhanded triumph. Slow but sure turned into something more panic-stricken as Tony Middleton was caught at point, Giles White offered no stroke to a ball cutting back marginally, and Robin Smith square-cut a catch, high off the bat, to point. Hello dressing- room, maybe goodbye Australian tour. It was just as well that Paul Terry thrived.
The struggle still went on, Mark Nicholas cross-batting what appeared to be an intended pull to mid-off and Adrian Aymes edging a low, well-taken catch to Lara at first slip. The Hampshire worms suddenly turned and a seventh-wicket partnership of 69 between Kevan James and Udal uplifted them.
Udal made 33 of their first 50 runs, his third half-century this summer including seven fours off 83 balls, before being well caught, low at short leg, by Andy Moles. Warwickshire were on the bowling bonus points trail and with it the Championship run-in was looking good.
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