After a rainy second day when no play was possible, the third day of the match was cool but sunny throughout. The rain had left the bowler's run-ups sodden through and any pressure on the grass sent water spurting up like an artesian well, so no play was possible until after lunch. By the close, Zimbabwe had scored 281 for six, a lead of 150, and were still in with a fair chance of victory on the fourth and final day, given uninterrupted play.

Murray Goodwin opened the day's scoring after lunch, clipping Simon Francis neatly through midwicket for four. His partner Trevor Gripper, enjoyed a life when on 6, snicking a shoulder high catch to third slip, the guilty fielder getting his hands to the ball but still allowing it to burst through them to the boundary.

While Gripper concentrated on perfecting his forward defence, Goodwin took Francis apart and when he changed ends, with five fours in an over, a pull, two cuts and two drives. He slowed down as he approached his fifty, though, eventually reaching it off 75 balls. Then Gripper, attempting a rare attacking strike, sliced a catch to gully, off left arm spinner Charlie van der Gucht for 24. Lee Savident held the catch, this made up for a very poor over he has just delivered. The pair had added 103 for the second wicket.

Alistair Campbell soon announced his presence with two successive off side fours off van der Gucht, but Goodwin 70 pulled the same bowler to midwicket for Alex Morris to hold a sharp chance. Carlisle scored one this afternoon whether one was talking cricket or soccer, cricketer Stuart laboured to move the ball off the square until skying an attempted drive to mid-off, where Simon Renshaw held the catch. The out-of-form Neil Johnson 0 was dropped low down at mid-off, off Renshaw; but next ball snicked a catch to Jason Laney at second slip.

Zimbabwe limped in to tea on 144 for five (Campbell 27, Guy Whittall 1), but the final session was theirs, as they almost doubled the score for the loss of one further wicket. While Whittall, struggled with his timing, concentrated on a supporting role, Campbell showed the class that makes it incredible that he averages only 25 in Test cricket. He played many elegant and well-timed drives and turns to leg, and reached his fifty with a reverse sweep for three.

Whittall eventually found the ball he wanted, a long hop from Robin Smith, whose leg spin is not quite in the class of the absent Shane Warne, and hoisted it over the midwicket seating for the first six of the match. But he fell to a catch at the wicket for 24 driving Renshaw. In the same time Campbell had scored more than three times as many in their sixth-wicket stand of 116.

Tatenda Taibu got off the mark with an impressive drive to the extra-cover boundary while Campbell reached his century with a neat clip through midwicket for four off John Stephenson, armed with the second new ball. Towards the end of the day the unimpressive Hampshire bowling became increasingly erratic, and Zimbabwe finished on 281 for six (Campbell 104, Taibu 5)