HAMPSHIRE’s bid to ease their relegation worries suffered a blow on the final day of their Championship clash with Surrey.
Kumar Sangakkara scored a classy 84 not out from 177 balls to lead the hosts to the safety of a draw at the Kia Oval, with the rain arriving at 4pm to bring the match to a premature close.
Surrey were only five runs away from wiping off their first innings arrears at 248 for three when the weather intervened.
Steven Davies was unbeaten on 29, having helped the former Sri Lankan captain to put on an unbroken 57 runs for the fourth wicket.
The key stand of the day, however, came earlier in the afternoon.
Arun Harinath – who made 57 – added exactly 100 with Sangakkara for the third wicket, with the pair batting almost throughout the session between lunch and tea and repelling a Hampshire attack revolving around Liam Dawson’s left-arm spin and their seamers.
Until Harinath was caught at the wicket off Sean Ervine’s medium pace, with Lewis McManus taking an excellent legside catch shortly before the tea interval, the visitors’ only bowling successes of the day came in the morning session when they dismissed both Surrey openers Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley.
Surrey had started the day on 23 for no wicket – needing a further 230 runs to make Hampshire bat again.
And Dawson was on from the start as he looked to impress England’s selectors ahead of the winter tour squad announcements.
Dawson bowled tidily enough, unchanged from the Vauxhall End during the first session, and then sending down all but three overs from the same end between lunch and tea.
He made the initial breakthrough by having Burns smartly caught at short leg for 18 in his sixth over of the day.
Overall, however, he failed to exploit any last-day wear and tear and ended up with figures of 36-8-95-1.
Sibley, who scored 44, fell for the second time in the match to a diving legside catch by McManus, as he aimed a back foot flip off his hip against the pace of Brad Wheal.
Sangakkara, however, held Hampshire’s attack at bay with some ease, hitting 11 fours in all, while it was to Harinath’s great credit that he suffered little by comparison in their third wicket stand.