Hampshire are left staring at a first innings deficit after Nottinghamshire cranked up the pressure on day two of the Championship clash at the Ageas Bowl.
After the visitors were bowled out for an imposing 371, the top order failed to make the required big score in reply, with only skipper Jimmy Adams (61) able to register a half-century in their 167 for four as bad light ended the day’s play eight overs early.
It left them 204 runs behind with six first-innings wickets in hand.
Much will depend on the likes of Will Smith, Adam Wheater and Sean Ervine on day three as Hampshire aim to claw themselves at least somewhere close to 300.
With the visitors resuming their innings on 301 for six, the Hampshire attack made early inroads to get themselves back into the contest and looked much more purposeful with the ball than they had on day one.
Andre Adams (three for 93) picked up two wickets in the morning session with the key dismissal of Alex Hales (141), who added just five runs to his overnight total.
The England batsman played a wild stroke, out of keeping with his fine effort, as his former team-mate sent his stump cartwheeling.
It paved the way for a good spell from the bowlers as Nottinghamshire then lost three wickets for the addition of just 13 runs to reach 324 for nine.
Gareth Berg (three for 88) found the edge of Vernon Philander’s bat, before Adams then got the merest of nicks from Will Gidman with Wheater producing a full-length dive to seal maximum bowling points.
But a frustrating last-wicket stand between Luke Wood (26 not out) and Jake Ball (26) put on 47 runs to take the edge off what would have been an excellent morning for Hampshire.
Adams’ side were also dealt a blow when Liam Dawson (four) left a swinging Vernon Philander delivery and was bowled with just five runs on the board in the short period before lunch.
The coaching staff will surely be disappointed players got themselves in but were then unable to emulate Hales by building the type of innings that dictates the direction of a game.
Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry (30) made steady progress in a 66-run partnership, before Carberry got a thick outside edge to a Wood delivery and was caught by Samit Patel in the slip cordon.
Adams then departed as the impressive Wood collected his second victim, inducing an edge behind to the wicketkeeper.
James Vince (32) has been short of runs so far this term in his attempts to force his way into the England reckoning.
But after a scratchy start, he then looked in fine form with some glorious strokes until he was run out, attempting a second run when there was no real need to take that sort of risk.
Smith (25 not out) and Wheater (five not out) made sure there were no further alarms as the conditions became increasingly gloomy.
But one of the batsmen will need to do something special to boost Hampshire’s hopes.