County Championship: Hampshire survival bid stalls as Durham restrict lead
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl, day three|
|Hampshire 411 & 176-7: McManus 41*, Dawson 39; Pringle 5-64|
|Durham 361: Richardson 99*, Clark 58; Wheal 4-39|
|Hampshire (7 pts) lead Durham (4 pts) by 226 runs|
Hampshire, needing to beat Durham to be sure of Division One survival, were frustrated by rain and off-spinner Ryan Pringle on day three at Southampton.
No play was possible before lunch but Durham's gritty lower order added 119 to their overnight 242-7 to finish on 361, trailing by 50 on first innings.
Hampshire's second innings started well but they quickly slumped to 108-6, with Pringle taking 5-64.
The hosts closed on 176-7, leading by 226, ahead of a crucial final day.
A win would guarantee Hampshire's place in Division One next season, at the expense of the loser of Warwickshire's game with Lancashire at Edgbaston - while a draw would be enough for Hampshire if Lancashire were to win, as they would be level on points with Warwickshire with the same number of wins, but the Bears would go down by virtue of having lost more games.
However, with Lancashire struggling at 28-3 chasing an unlikely 347 to win, Hampshire may have to gamble on Friday against Durham, who are safe in mid-table.
Having lost the morning session to the weather, Hampshire were keen to wrap up Durham's first innings quickly, but Brydon Carse (46) and Graham Onions (38) shared partnerships of 79 and 86 respectively with Michael Richardson to take the visitors beyond 350.
Richardson agonisingly finished on 99 not out as last man Chris Rushworth fell without scoring.
Hampshire then reached 50 within the first 10 overs of their second innings, but lost six wickets for 58 runs either side of tea.
Liam Dawson (39) and Lewis McManus (41 not out) added 57 for the seventh wicket to steady the innings, before Dawson fell to Scott Borthwick four overs before the close.
Hampshire director of cricket Giles White told BBC Radio Solent:
"We need to bat tomorrow, see how many we can set. Hopefully we can bat for an hour and see where we are and I think it makes for an interesting game.
"The wicket's consistently spun throughout the game, if you build pressure and get wickets, it can be difficult when coming in.
"Hopefully we can put Durham under pressure chasing a score and see where it leads.
"It is offering a fair amount of spin, so going into the last day of the game, it's an interesting place to be."