Warwickshire close in on title
Hampshire 324 and 43 for 3 v Warwickshire 493 v
Leaders Warwickshire closed in on their first County Championship title since 2004 on a day when an unbeaten century from Liam Dawson was not enough to prevent Hampshire being relegated to Division Two.
Resuming overnight on 57 without loss, in response to Warwickshire's 493, Hampshire went on to reach a total of 324 as opener Dawson carried his bat for 152 not out. Following on, Hampshire then stumbled to 43 for 3 in their second innings by the close of play.
That meant Hampshire would require 126 more runs on the final day to make Warwickshire, who won their first County Championship 100 years ago, bat again.
Hampshire openers Dawson and Jimmy Adams progressed serenely through the first part of the morning, before Adams dragged a Chris Wright delivery against his stumps to be out for 33. Michael Carberry fell shortly after for just four, snicking a floated Chris Metters delivery into the slips to leave the home side on 107 for 2.
The situation soon became worse for the home side when the normally reliable Neil McKenzie fell for 10 on the stroke of the lunch interval, to leave Hampshire on 137 for 3. After the break, Hampshire's young batting pair of James Vince and Dawson, who had moved superbly past 50 in the morning session, settled the ship with a handy partnership.
But when Vince fell to a catch on the boundary for 41, Hampshire hopes faded. Dawson deservedly reached three figures for just the third time in his first-class career, but as Hampshire neared 250, a pair of quick wickets all but condemned them to the drop.
Sean Ervine was first to go for 16, caught on the boundary off the bowling of Metters, before wicketkeeper Michael Bates was trapped lbw by the same bowler for a third-ball duck. Late heavy hitting from tail-enders Chris Wood (18) and Danny Briggs (25), dragged Hampshire's score tantalising close to the 343 required to make Warwickshire bat again, but despite Dawson's impressive display they fell short.
With Hampshire requiring maximum bonus batting points - awarded for scoring 400 runs inside 110 overs - to have any chance of staying up, their failure to reach that target saw relegation confirmed. But for title-chasing Warwickshire, the race was on to force the win which would guarantee them a first championship in seven years.
As news filtered through to the Rose Bowl of title rivals Lancashire's fine performance against Somerset, the Warwickshire bowlers tore through Hampshire's top order, with Dawson this time falling for just 17, while Adams went for 11 and nightwatchman James Tomlinson for a duck.