Finding themselves unexpectedly asked to bat again after a surprising tea-time declaration by Robin Smith, Nottinghamshire flirted with disaster in losing three quick wickets before recovering slightly to close on 88-3.

With one day remaining the home side lead by 74 with seven second innings wickets intact. Earlier former Zimbabwean Test player Neil Johnson had scored his second century of the season prompting his skipper to call a halt with the score on 259-4.

When Notts did bat again it was no surprise to see Guy Welton's wretched season end with another disappointment as Alan Mullally took an easy return catch. The opener will want to forget this campaign which has seen him play in 12 matches for an average of just 15.

Greg Blewett received a huge ovation as he made his way to the wicket for his final Championship innings at Trent Bridge but he was quickly back in the pavilion, bowled by Alex Morris for the second time in the game.

Darren Bicknell and Usman Afzaal then both reached important landmarks. Bicknell reached his 1,000 runs for the season with a four through mid-wicket off Morris and Afzaal did the same with a boundary off Mullally.

The introduction of Shaun Udal into the attack broke the partnership as Afzaal flashed at a wide delivery and nicked the ball for Adrian Aymes to take his 500th career catch behind the wicket. At 38-3 Smith's declaration was beginning to look a shrewd gamble.

In fading light Kevin Pietersen livened up the proceedings with some typically pugnacious drives. Bicknell responded with an all-run four off Mascarenhas and then a cover drive to the ropes off Udal.

The Notts captain passed fifty for the sixth time this season with a glance to leg off Udal (92 mins 103 balls 6x4s) but with five lights shining on the meter the umpires called a halt to the day's play.

Hampshire took most people by surprise with their decision to declare at tea with a lead of just 14.

With Neil Johnson and John Francis batting throughout the afternoon session in adding 183 for the fifth wicket it seemed as if the visitors would go on and compile a substantial first innings lead but Jimmy Cook, the coach, backed his captain by saying that, with second place in the table already confirmed, his side wanted to end the season in style by bowling and then batting their way to victory.