Hampshire face an uphill challenge on the final day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
The visitors have been set to score 469 for an unlikely victory or, more realistically, survive a minimum of 140 overs, reached the close of the third day on 111 for three, with Joe Weatherley having made 56.
Earlier, Notts advanced their second innings score to 389 for nine, before declaring in mid-afternoon. Steven Mullaney, who had been unbeaten on 82 at the start of play, was eventually dismissed for 130, making his runs from 189 balls, with 12 fours and four sixes.
The Nottinghamshire captain shared in an opening stand of 155 with Jake Libby, who made 54 before falling to a superb diving catch at second slip by Jimmy Adams.
Mullaney’s 13th first class hundred – and his third against the same opposition – came from 169 deliveries and included two maximums. He plundered two more from the bowling of Liam Dawson, before becoming only the second first class scalp taken by the part-time spin of Joe Weatherley.
Ross Taylor and Samit Patel had shared in a stand of 95 in the first innings and went one run better before being parted, when Patel fell to a catch in the deep for 36.
Lewis McManus, the visitor’s wicketkeeper had to leave the field, in some discomfort, after sustaining a finger injury, with James Vince taking the gloves.
Tom Moores helped himself to three more sixes in a quickfire 34 before a sliced steepler was taken by the stand-in gloveman, off Fidel Edwards.
Stuart Broad and Riki Wessels were both dismissed cheaply by Chris Wood, before Edwards, who claimed three for 60, took his seventh wicket of the match in bowling Luke Fletcher, at which point Mullaney declared.
Under a hot sun – and in ideal batting conditions – the Hampshire openers were untroubled in adding 82 but were separated due to a moment of extreme rashness.
Weatherley, having reached his first County Championship 50, couldn’t resist the wiles of Patel’s left-arm spin and dollied up a catch to mid-on after more than two hours at the crease.
His departure altered the complexion of the contest dramatically as the visitors lost two more wickets in quick succession.
Harry Gurney, who bowled 13 consecutive overs from the Pavilion End, was eventually rewarded – but not before a moment of disappointment.
Jimmy Adams, who made 17, nicked the left-arm pace bowler to second slip but was reprieved when Mullaney grassed the low chance. Next ball, in an exact repeat scenario, the same fielder held on, amidst great jubilation.
One last push from England quick Broad, late in the day, brought the downfall of Vince, pinned lbw when not playing a shot.
Hashim Amla was protected by nightwatchman Chris Wood for the closing couple of overs but the South African international’s performance may well be key to the eventual outcome.
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