Batting trio keep Hampshire on top
Hampshire 204 and 272 for 6 v Kent 182
Hampshire vastly improved their chances of remaining in the top flight of the LV= County Championship by extending their lead over Kent to 294 with four wickets intact going into the final day of this clash against their fellow strugglers.
Half-centuries from Michael Carberry, Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson helped the visitors to reach 272 for 6 when rain interrupted and stopped play just after 4.20pm. Match umpires Rob Bailey and Nigel Cowley inspected just after five o'clock and called the game off for the day.
Resuming on their overnight score of 16 without loss, Hampshire's openers Carberry and Adams showed great resolve throughout much of the opening session to churn out a first-wicket stand worth 92 in 47 overs. Though it made for dour fare for a small St Lawrence crowd the partnership may yet prove crucial in terms of Hampshire's survival in division one.
Adams lit up proceedings, albeit temporarily, by clubbing a brace of sixes off the bowling of England off-spinner James Tredwell on his way to a 138-ball 50, but soon after the left-hander missed a slog sweep against Malinga Bandara to go leg before.
Australian Phillip Hughes did his utmost to accelerate the scoring rate with three boundaries in a cameo 38 until he also fell lbw to a Tredwell arm ball that appeared to shoot on to the left-hander's front pad.
As Kent's weakened attack continued to toil, Dawson also caught the eye in reaching 50 from 71 balls. In search of inspiration Kent took the second new ball and that reaped immediate dividends when to the very next delivery, Dawson nudged an away-swinger to first slip against Kent's golden arm seamer Darren Stevens.
Sean Ervine feathered the next ball to slip where Tredwell initially juggled the chance only to catch it at the second attempt and send Ervine packing for a golden duck. As the storm clouds gathered, Stevens took his tally to three for 37 by having Michael Bates caught behind off an expansive drive by wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.
With a 300-plus lead comfortably within their grasp Hampshire would now appear firm favourites to secure a last-day victory which would likely condemn Kent to life in division two.