Fletcher burst rocks Surrey
Surrey 207 and 73 for 3 (Burns 41*) need another 186 runs to beat Nottinghamshire 247 and 191 (Meaker 4-64)
Assuming it is not the weather, the key to a match that enters the final day nicely poised will probably be Surrey's ability to reach lunch without suffering much more damage than that inflicted on the third evening, before bad light slashed a further 14 overs from an already shortened day.
Having earned themselves a target of 259 to win by bowling out Nottinghamshire for 191 in a contest of diminishing returns, they suffered three blows during Luke Fletcher's opening spell at the Pavilion End and were grateful that Rory Burns did not waste many scoring opportunities. Thanks largely to the opener's eight boundaries, they have a slightly less daunting 186 to pursue now.
One way or another it was Fletcher's day. Having bowled impressively in the first innings, when figures of 2 for 40 did not really do him justice, he began by swinging the bat lustily in an extended stay as nightwatchman and rode his luck profitably in the circumstances, contributing a useful 26 runs on a day when none of the recognised batsmen was able to build on a start.
He was dropped twice at second slip, first by Vikram Solanki and then Jason Roy, before Zander de Bruyn held on to one at third slip, giving Stuart Meaker the second of his four wickets in the innings. As in the first innings, Meaker, Jade Dernbach and Tim Linley made the batsmen work for any rewards on a pitch that always had something for the bowler. Surrey do need to be sharper in the field, though. Roy put down Paul Franks later and Steven Davies, diving across first slip, spilled a chance offered by James Taylor before he had scored, much to Dernbach's annoyance.
No batsman, though, was able to punish the errors to any notable degree. Taylor made only 13 before Dernbach took his revenge, via a catch taken so low by Gary Wilson at first slip there seemed to be some doubt in Taylor's mind over whether it carried, judging by his body language at the crease. But off he went, before Riki Wessels edged his first ball to second slip, this time with no element of doubt.
Michael Lumb might have been unlucky, looking relatively in control before a typically theatrical appeal from Linley, who fell over in the process, persuaded umpire Steve O'Shaughnessy to raise the finger. Lumb looked squarely in front but stood aghast at the decision, as if he felt he had put bat to ball first.
All this happened during a period in which O'Shaughnessy and Martin Bodenham were constantly required to consider whether or not the floodlights, in use pretty much all day, were aiding or impeding the batsman's ability to see the red ball. Spectators are frustrated when the lights are on and the players still go off but the use of lights is for the most part a benefit. This was a day, certainly, when there would have been much less to watch without them.
With Notts 161 for 9, Surrey had the upper hand but the last wicket proved infuriatingly elusive until Arun Harinath ran out Ajmal Shahzad, whose breezy stand with Harry Gurney added what may yet prove to be 30 vital runs.
As Surrey began their pursuit, Fletcher thundered in with conviction and struck two quick blows, first conjuring up a brutish delivery that climbed off a length as Roy shaped to defend, inducing an outside edge taken in front of his face at first slip by Alex Hales. Soon afterwards, he drew Harinath to push at one that left him outside off stump, Wessels taking a more comfortable catch behind the stumps. In the same Fletcher spell, Vikram Solanki chanced a quick single to mid-on and was run out brilliantly by Steven Mullaney, who scored a direct hit with a back-handed throw to leave Surrey wobbling at 29 for 3.