Hampshire 298 for 8 (Dawson 69, Berg 52*) trail Nottinghamshire 340 by 42 runs Scorecard
The most important moment in Hampshire's fight to avoid relegation from Division One of the LV= Championship came in mid-afternoon - not at Trent Bridge, but at Headingley. It was the news that Sussex had been dismissed for 248 and narrowly missed a batting point. With that news, Hampshire instantly knew they would live to fight another day.
Put simply, if Sussex lose to Yorkshire and Hampshire beat Notts, it would be Sussex who are relegated along with Worcestershire. There is life in this Division One relegation scrap yet. Hampshire, who looked as good as down a month ago, and who were said on these very pages, a little carelessly, to be "fighting a losing cause" after the first day were doing everything to question the notion.
Twice, at 89 for 5 and 203 for 8, their plight was obvious, only for Ryan McLaren and Gareth Berg to summon a defiant ninth-wicket stand of 95. When bad light took the players from the field for the second time, with more than 13 overs remaining, they trailed by only 42 runs, although they have a new ball less than two overs old to withstand in the morning.
Liam Dawson's 69 from 97 balls, ended when Steven Mullaney had him lbw, was another vital Hampshire contribution. "We bat a long way down and keep battling, that's the make-up of our team," said Dawson. "All we can hope is that Yorkshire do us a favour." Well, they beat Hampshire last week, and they are the champions after all, so a favour would be nothing if not even-handed.
Hampshire resumed with their first innings one ball old - enough for Stuart Broad to have sent the nightwatchman Ryan Stevenson packing - and it was not long before the left-arm quick Harry Gurney was making inroads into their top order.
He struck with his first ball, a fortunate wicket as Jimmy Adams was strangled down the leg side, then followed up by having Will Smith caught at the wicket and silencing an attractive 42 from James Vince by bringing one back from around the wicket to bowl him off an inside edge. Brett Hutton then had Michael Carberry lbw.
Dawson fashioned the recovery. He has been in excellent form since returning from a month's loan at Essex, making 140 against Yorkshire in Hampshire's last outing. Initial support came from Sean Ervine. But two o'clock arrived and, at the very moment the ECB announced, as planned, Samit Patel's return to the England fold, Patel defeated Ervine's vigorous attempt to hit down the ground, the catch smartly taken at mid-off by Broad, an England team-mate once more. Right on cue. If Samit did amateur dramatics (for which he has a wonderful range of facial expressions), he would not need a prompter.
"From a position of 200 for 8 you would expect to knock over a side for less than 300," Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, Mick Newell, said, "but I think it's a pretty good pitch but a slow pitch and that's frustrated us today in terms of winkling out their lower order. They've obviously got two very good players in at 9 and 10 who made it very tough for us."