After a blank first day and with Somerset and Middlesex locked in a battle to the death down at Taunton, wooden-spooners Warwickshire seemed to have gifted Hampshire a lifeline when they subsided to 28-5 in their first innings. But a recovery of sorts, led by Dom Sibley, saw them reach 188.
On a pitch that gave some help to all bowlers but was far from deadly, the Warwickshire bowlers then came to the party and shot Hampshire out for just 116.
The star bowler for the Bears was Oliver Hannon-Dalby who took 4-29 in 12 overs of probing seam bowling. Written off by many as a just a white-ball bowler, he was making only his fourth Championship appearance of the season.
He was well-supported by the man who probably should be known as Ryan Sidebottom the Second, to distinguish him from his (so far) more illustrious namesake. Plucked from local club cricket, he has taken 20 wickets in just four matches at little over 20 runs apiece.
Inevitably, Jeetan Patel was also in on the wicket taking party, taking 3-19.
George Bailey was the only batsman to resist the Bears’ attack for any length of time. His 55 came off only 57 balls. But when he edged Hannon-Dalby to Tim Ambrose, the end was in sight.
Earlier the toss was forfeited and Hampshire asked Warwickshire to bat on a fine morning but with a lot of moisture still around from Sunday night’s torrential downpour.
The first 15 minutes of the game was like a microcosm of the Bears’ disastrous season. Liam Banks hit Kyle Abbott straight to mid-on and set off for a run. Had it been last ball of the match and one to win, it might have been worth a try. As it was, Sibley was distinctly uninterested and Banks was left stranded.
Next, Jonathan Trott edged Abbott to second slip for nought. Then, first ball, Ian Bell shouldered arms to the same bowler and was castled.
Nature then camne to the aid of the home team, in the form of a slippery foothold that caused Abbott to go over on his ankle and leave the field with figures of 1.3-1-0-2.
Fortunately, Abbott was able to return later, apparently little the worse for his tumble; and in the short term, the Bears only profited marginally from his absence. Fidel Edwards, getting some movement both in the air and off the pitch, bowled Matt Lamb and then yorked Ambrose.
From that low point, Sibley and Alex Thomson started the revival. Thomson is Staffordshire born and playing just his second match for the Bears.
He and Sibley added 78 before Berg claimed him. Patel and Chris Wright gave Sibley enough support to raise hopes that the ex-Surrey man might make his first hundred for the Bears.
Edwards polished off the tail to dash those hopes. But, stranded on 92, he could at least claim the honour of being only the third batsman this century (after Nick Knight and Ian Westwood) to carry his bat for the Bears.
As it happened, Sibley was back at the wicket before the end of the day as the Bears survived a brief spell at the crease, though without adding to their 72 run lead.
Weather permitting, tomorrow could be a decisive day for Hampshire in their battle to avoid joining the Bears in Division Two next year.