Worcestershire launched a superb second half of the innings fightback with the bat – and then their pace attack made large inroads into Hampshire’s second innings on day two of the Specsavers County Championship clash at the Ageas Bowl.

Skipper Joe Leach’s side recovered from being 83-6 at one stage in reply to Hampshire’s 290 thanks largely to the efforts of Ben Cox and Ed Barnard.

Worcestershire were able to eventually total 211 – a deficit of just 79 – and then Leach, Steve Magoffin and Josh Tongue reduced Hampshire to 163-8 by the close as they hauled back the home side after a flying start.

Hampshire now hold a lead of 242 with two wickets left entering the third day.

Worcestershire resumed on 40-2 this morning with Daryl Mitchell and Tongue the not out batsmen.

Tongue was dismissed in the second over of the day as he edged former Worcestershire player Kyle Abbott to Rilee Roussouw at second slip.

Player’s Player Of The Year Mitchell moved onto a defiant 21 from 79 balls but drove at Fidel Edwards with Sam Northeast pouching the chance at fourth slip.

New signing Travis Head quickly turned Abbott off his legs to the boundary and then Joe Clarke straight drove and cover drove Brad Wheal for boundaries.

When on 17, Clarke completed 3,000 first class runs in his career.

But Gareth Berg made a double breakthrough with Head (9) also falling to Northeast at fourth slip and Clarke (21) bowled by the former Middlesex all-rounder.

Worcestershire were then 83-6 but George Rhodes and Cox added a further 31 before lunch.

Cox showed an aggressive approach in picking up four boundaries in his first 20 runs, three of them off Brad Wheal.

The partnership between Cox and Rhodes was worth 44 when the latter on 12 was lbw to Abbott.

Cox was then joined by Barnard and they counter-attacked to good effect during a partnership of 76 in 16 overs.

An excellent half century by Cox was completed off 55 balls with 10 fours.

The 50 stand with Barnard, who also showed plenty of positive intent, came up in 55 deliveries.

The eighth wicket pair steered Worcestershire past 200 and a batting bonus point to add to the three bowling points accrued on the opening day.

Cox had moved onto 65 off 75 balls with 12 fours when he aimed a pull at Wheal and was caught on the leg side.

Leach (2) also went for an attacking shock against the same bowler in a similar area and was dismissed.

Barnard (40) was last out when he swept spinner Liam Dawson and fell in the deep.

When Hampshire began their second innings, they reached 47-0 but then the Worcestershire attack began to make significant inroads.

Lewis McManus was caught behind off Tongue, while attempting to take his bat inside the line, before Jimmy Adams was leg before to the first ball of Joe Leach’s over.

Sam Northeast temporarily slowed the wicket taking with a supreme straight drive but was clean bowled by a superb next ball from Leach.

James Vince, Hampshire’s hero of the first innings with his 75, fell to Steve Magoffin for a second time in the match when he nicked to Daryl Mitchell at second slip.

South African pair Hashim Amla and Rossouw combined in a brisk 40 run partnership before Rossouw was bowled by Magoffin.

Liam Dawson and Gareth Berg departed leg before, to Leach and Tongue respectively, and then Amla was run out for a promising 36 by a direct hit from Barnard at point after Abbott had turned a delivery from Tongue on the off side.

Leach ended with 3-34, Magoffin 2-43 and Tongue 2-31.