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    Keaton Jennings scored 172, putting Hampshire in a difficult position
Keaton Jennings scored 172, putting Hampshire in a difficult position
Six of Keaton Jennings's last seven first-class centuries have been in excess of 150. Source: Getty Images

Keaton Jennings scored 172, putting Hampshire in a difficult position

Keaton Jennings disproved the Utilita Bowl jinx with a century, leading Lancashire to a significant first-innings lead over Hampshire.

In the first fixture at the newly renamed ground, five batters - Nick Gubbins, James Vince, Tom Prest, Liam Dawson, and Luke Wells - scored fifties but failed to convert them into three figures. Jennings effortlessly converted his overnight score of 85 into an impressive 172. Accompanying him brilliantly was 21-year-old George Bell, who unfortunately ran himself out for 99, missing out on a maiden first-class century.

Lancashire were eventually bowled out for 484, with Liam Dawson taking 4 for 156, giving them a 117-run lead. Hampshire lost two wickets to Will Williams before the close, reaching 39 for 2. The bowlers have not received any assistance from either the pitch or the Kookaburra ball, but the batters have been able to score easily at the Utilita Bowl.

Jennings only looked comfortable during his seven-and-a-half-hour innings on day two when he was dropped at point by Nick Gubbins while on 36. Otherwise, he showcased his skills in all directions, as the lack of movement from the fast bowlers did not trouble him, and his renowned brilliance against spin made the low threats ineffective.

The ex-Test opener reached his 28th first-class century in 234 balls with a smooth cover drive as he and Bell comfortably progressed through the morning session. Hampshire's only moment of excitement came when they believed James Fuller had caught Jennings' edge, but their celebrations were halted by the umpire's decision.

Jennings progressed to 150, a feat he has achieved in six of his last seven red ball centuries, as Lancashire reached 350 before the bonus points cut-off. This point will give Lancashire an extra point if the match ends in a draw.

In the 40th over of the day, Dawson finally ended the 166-run partnership between Jennings and Bell by dismissing Jennings with a reverse sweep.

Bell played a cautious innings but demonstrated his ability to drive attractively and find gaps.

He reached his fifty in 132 balls, and a century seemed likely. However, Dawson dismissed Matthew Hurst caught at first slip and Tom Bailey leg before, after James Vince wrongfully claimed a catch.

The only time Ian Bell appeared nervous was in the 90s when he attempted to take a single to reach his first century. However, Jack Blatherwick recognized that a run was not possible and signaled for Bell to return to his crease. Unfortunately, it was too late for Ian Holland to make a direct hit from point.

This was the second time Bell had fallen in the 90s, the first being when he hit 91 against Middlesex last September. It seems that a century is within his reach.

Dawson bowled for 49 overs before Fuller claimed his second wicket of the innings by dismissing Blatherwick.

During the 21 overs played under the lights, the visiting bowlers beat the bat numerous times but only managed to take two wickets. Williams was dismissed after edging behind to Fletcha Middleton's delivery, while Ali Orr was caught swishing. These wickets gave Lancashire a slight chance of achieving an unlikely victory.

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