Hampshire’s hopes of promotion from County Championship division two continued to fade yesterday.
Jimmy Adams’ side once more struggled against Essex on day three of the contest at the Ageas Bowl.
After a stunning 161 from former England batsman Owais Shah, the visitors set Hampshire a target of 427 for victory.
While the chase looked tough enough at the innings break, it became even more unlikely when the hosts slumped to 23 for three.
Michael Carberry (six), Bilal Shafayat (three) and Simon Katich (nought) all perished before Adams (36 not out) and Liam Dawson (25 not out) saw Hampshire to 73 for three at the close – still 354 runs short of victory.
Only an incredible batting performance today will see the club’s promotions hopes survive.
A triumph over Essex would tee up an exciting finale to the Championship season at champions-elect Derbyshire.
However, it is most likely they will head to Derby for a dead rubber on Tuesday.
The home side had started yesterday 192 runs behind but with hopes of ripping through Essex and setting up an acheivable victory target.
That was not to be, though, as Ryan ten Doeschate (69) and James Foster (61) struck quickfire half-centuries.
David Balcombe did eventually bag five for 103 – to go with his four first-innings wickets – but he was unable to wrest control from the visitors’ grasp.
Now Hampshire need a batting miracle to keep their promotion bid alive.