Smith has Lancashire under the cosh
Stand-in Hampshire captain Will Smith finished the day unbeaten on 99 as Specsavers County Championship Division One's basement county enjoyed a profitable first day against Lancashire at the Ageas Bowl.
Smith, taking the reins while James Vince turns out for England, eclipsed his previous best score of 67 this season and needs only a single in the morning for his first century of the campaign, while partners Jimmy Adams and Tom Alsop posted half-centuries in a total of 297 for one.
Smith’s opening companion Adams scored 88 - his best Championship knock of the summer - as part of Hampshire’s highest opening stand this season of 191.
Adams and Smith took few risks throughout the first two sessions of the day after the latter had won the toss and batted on a flat track.
Run-scoring always seemed hard work and required patience, but the hosts’ openers had the necessary temperament in abundance.
Smith, in particular, put a high tariff on his wicket, leaving the swinging ball outside his off stump.
In slight contrast Adams was happier to punch over-pitched deliveries down the ground and opened up the off-side with some puncturing cover drives.
As a result his wicket was at less of a premium, and the regular appeals from bowlers to caught behind chances proved as much - although the closest call was an edge which dropped just short of Tom Smith at second slip.
Left-hander Adams reached his half-century in 122 balls, continuing fine recent form which has included three fifties and a 49 in his last four innings.
He again missed out on his ton as he thwacked a cut off Jordan Clark straight to Steven Croft at point for 88, the seventh time he has passed fifty across all formats this season without a ton.
Smith and Adams’ effort was Hampshire’s second highest opening stand against Lancashire and the best at this ground.
Smith reached his half-century in 147 balls, but his luck was in on 70 when he edged to second slip Smith only for the ball to sink to the turf.
The former Durham skipper will have to wait until the morning to have a chance of converting to a ton - which would be the 17th of his first-class career.
Alsop had come to the crease and notched a mature unbeaten 50, which took in his 500th first-class run, adding another 85 with Smith to secure two batting points for the home side.
The Lancashire bowling attack will have bowled worse for more reward, but by no means looked threatening for long periods.