Hampshire 208 for 4 (Carberry 84*, Ervine 53) trail Middlesex 356 (Robson 84, Eskinazi 82, Wheal 4-98) by 147 runs
Michael Carberry closed in on a first Specsavers County Championship of the season with a fine 84 not out on the second day against Middlesex.
The Hampshire opener is making his first Ageas Bowl appearance in the Championship since he was diagnosed with cancer last June.
Carberry pulled his side into a strong position as they replied to Middlesex's 356 as they ended the day 148 runs in arrears with six wickets remaining.
Carberry showed off his attritional side, wearing down Tim Murtagh, Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones in his crab-like style he saves for when he knows the pitch has gremlins.
His blocking and leaving, especially against the troublesome Roland-Jones in his first spell, helped forge partnerships with Jimmy Adams, Liam Dawson and Sean Ervine.
With opening partner Adams he played the role of defender as his long-standing friend could free his arms a little. The duo added 57 for the opening stand before Adams got an edge on Ollie Rayner to give James Franklin a simple catch.
The same two Middlesex players reversed their roles to see off James Vince who was tempted too far into the corridor of uncertainty to find a thick edge, kicking the ground on his exit.
The hallmarks of a good Carberry innings are his cutting and pulling, and while the former was forthcoming with genius precision, the latter was made to wait.
But when the big pull shot came it was the shot of the day, as he swivelled and connected off Murtagh to see his shot slam into the advertising hoardings - never seeming to deviate from about five metres off the ground.
Carberry's fifty came from 154 balls - brought up, fittingly, with a stinging cut to the boundary - one of 12 shots which reached the fence in one form or another.
Liam Dawson was not impressed when umpire Jeremy Lloyds lifted his finger to the last ball before tea, with the batsman adjudged to have tickled one behind off Rayner.
Carberry's longest standing partner turned out to be Sean Ervine, with the pair scoring at the quickest rate of a slow-going day. Ervine scored a 70-ball fifty and appeared impenetrable until Finn returned to the attack with six overs left in the day to make him play on.
Kyle Abbott, in as nightwatchman, looped a simple chance to Sam Robson at gully but the ball somehow hit the turf.
Earlier, Middlesex were bowled out for 356 with Brad Wheal ending up with figures of 4 for 98. Abbott struck first - when he had Franklin feeling a foot outside off-stump - the ball flying to Vince at third slip.
After Roland-Jones had hit an exhilarating 38, Wheal accounted for him when he nicked to second slip, Dawson pinned Rayner, then Wheal had Finn leg before.