Surrey 113 for 1 (Stoneman 57) trail Hampshire 648 for 7 dec (Bailey 161, Adams 144, Vince 104) by 535 runs
At the Ageas Bowl a year ago, Gareth Batty decided that Surrey's first innings should bat on and on, until after tea on the second day. The reason was simple: "To piss their batters off". Only when Surrey had reached 637 for 7 did Batty finally declare.
Here, Batty was injured. But Hampshire channeled his sadistic spirit: Surrey were pummeled.
From the moment that Sean Ervine eased the opening ball, from Amar Virdi, through long-off for four, the entire second day seemed an exercise in waiting for the moment when George Bailey would take pity on Surrey and declare.
He did not seem in a generous mood. This was a characteristic innings - remorseless, efficient and exactly in keeping with his team's needs. There were two sixes thundered over long-on against spin; mostly, though, his near six hours at the crease were characterised by cold, bloodless accumulation. Only when attempting his third six was Bailey dismissed, for 161. No matter: he had already continued his supreme recent form against Surrey; Hampshire had a round 600 runs and Surrey their spirits sapped.
All Hampshire batsmen on the second day were united by their ravenous run-scoring. Ervine combined with Bailey to add a record fifth-wicket stand against Surrey of 167 in 44.5 overs, his seamless ascent towards a second Championship century of 2017 ended only when he dragged Conor McKerr on. It was McKerr's maiden Championship wicket for Surrey but, after match figures of 10 for 141 in his last game of a profitable loan spell at Derbyshire, he will not be lacking in awareness of the gulf between Division One and Two.
If there was a criticism of Hampshire's approach, perhaps they could have been even more attacking. Not that they dawdled: the run rate for the innings ended on exactly four, thanks to late pyrotechnics from Gareth Berg, who gleefully feasted on Surrey's spin in harrumphing 35 off 16 balls. When he was caught at long-on, Hampshire had already surpassed Surrey's gargantuan total from last summer. The 648 for 7 declared they mustered was not merely their highest ever first-class score against Surrey, it was the fifth-highest total in Hampshire's 153-year history.
The upshot was that Surrey needed an absurd 499 just to avoid the follow on. Hampshire had clearly recognised that, on a pitch that has so far proved particularly docile, batting once, and very, very big, was their best and only hope of forcing a win.
At 3.58pm, Kyle Abbott was entrusted with the new ball. Over 60 overs in the day had already passed, and yet they all seemed a mere prelude to the 30 that Surrey had to face. Three slips waited purposively as Abbott ran in to bowl, and all the intensity that had seeped out of the game on a meandering day suddenly returned. Abbott, the most potent pace bowler in county cricket this summer, had a couple of left-handers - his preferred prey - to feast upon, and could bowl without any regard for defending runs.
His initial six overs could not, though, overcome an alliance of the pitch and some commendable opening batting. Mark Stoneman was renowned for stolid defence at Chester-le-Street but has shown an altogether more assertive game after moving south; fresh from 144 not out in Surrey's cup final defeat on Saturday, he drove and cut with wonderful authority.
So well-timed were his shots that they only needed to locate a couple of unguarded inches on the off side to reach the boundary. Together with his immaculate defence off Abbott - a contest that could easily have been played out at Lord's on Thursday instead - it added to the impression that Stoneman might well be the finest English first-class batsman not required for the national team this week.
The sight of Ervine bowling some exploratory offspin after Surrey's openers had reached their century stand seemed to encapsulate Hampshire's uncertainty over how they would be able to winkle out 20 wickets on this surface. And yet Ervine proceeded to snare Stoneman, who had looked so serene: he was caught at first slip from a flighted delivery, though he gave the impression of being underwhelmed by the decision.
With that, and the knowledge that Kumar Sangakkara is absent for this game, Hampshire were imbued with a sliver of hope that a fourth victory of the season might be within their grasp. But as Rory Burns swept the day's final ball, from Mason Crane, to fine leg for four, it reaffirmed the sense that this is the sort of wicket to make bowlers weep.
Of course, the same seemed true at the Ageas Bowl a year ago, until Surrey clinched a fraught victory in the dying embers of the match. For all that, basic arithmetic remains squarely against Hampshire: a match that has seen only eight wickets in its opening two days will now require another 19 in the final two.