Six wickets from Boyd Rankin gave Warwickshire the edge on the first day at Edgbaston. After a wicket-less first session Rankin blew away the Hampshire middle order to put the Bears in the driving seat, despite a spirited partnership between Adam Wheater and Danny Briggs.
After winning the toss and electing to bowl first captain Varun Chopra might have been disheartened after the opening session. Hampshire had progressed serenely to 89-0 at lunch with openers Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson looking comfortable. But after Chris Wright (3/75) pinned Dawson lbw for 38 following the interval the Warwickshire bowlers established a rhythm and began to regularly chip away at the visitors’ middle order.
With the ball offering some swing it took until the 24th over for Rankin to be introduced to the attack. Keith Barker, Wright and Rikki Clarke had swung the ball but not looked particularly threatening, with Adams in particular punishing anything off line – summed up by successive drives off Clarke to move into the forties.
However, after Dawson’s dismissal, Rankin found some excellent rhythm and bowled with great variety to make inroads. First he forced Adams into a false shot, with the resulting edge pouched by Clarke at second slip. James Vince then arrived at the crease and immediately hit two full-blooded cover drives to the fence, but Rankin responded by trapping him lbw.
Michael Carberry (42) had looked fluent but dragged a wide one from Wright onto his stumps before Rankin bowled Will Smith (12) with a Yorker. The clatter of wickets had seen Hampshire move from 94/0 to 178/5.
The slide of dismissals threatened to undermine the visitors’ earlier efforts with the match fluctuating greatly from the morning. Sean Ervine and Gareth Berg were next to fall, both edging Rankin to the ever-reliable Clarke at second slip. Berg’s wicket gave Rankin just his seventh five-wicket haul of his career.
The afternoon session had undoubtedly belonged to the Bears but Hampshire were able to respond thanks to the efforts of Wheater and Briggs. The pair put on 103 for the eighth wicket to take them past 300 – something they had not managed in two attempts in an opening week defeat to Sussex.
Wheater was proactive in his counter-attack, mixing hard-ran pushes into gaps with confident boundary shots before edging Barker to Chopra at slip for 74. That proved to be a crucial breakthrough as the tail soon fell away.
Debutant Andre Adams crashed a six from his first ball, but completed his short stay at the crease by finding Chopra’s grateful hands at slip.
Rankin eventually trapped Briggs lbw to complete his first ever six-wicket spell and wrap up the innings at 319. Brigg’s efforts may prove crucial later in the match, although he did fall two short of only his second half century.
Warwickshire openers Chopra and Ian Westwood saw off the remaining four overs without loss to complete a successful opening day of the season for last year’s County Championship runners-up. With the weather set to be fair and the pitch not offering a great deal for the bowlers, Warwickshire will look to bat through Day Two and amass a daunting score.