James Vince and Sean Ervine performed a fabulous rescue mission for Hampshire as they averted disaster on day one of their promotion-decider at Glamorgan.
The duo both struck vital centuries in an extraordinary recovery as Hampshire rallied from 53 for five to 357 all out in a game they now look like they will need to win to claim promotion to division one.
Promotion-rivals Essex are well on top in their clash with Worcestershire and are attempting to wipe out the 10-point deficit.
After bowling Worcestershire out for just 84, Essex eased to 198 for three on day one.
And that made Hampshire’s recovery even more important as Vince (144) and Ervine (107) put on 225 for the sixth wicket to haul their team out of deep trouble and collect four batting points.
A relieved Vince was delighted with his fourth century of the campaign and the partnership with Zimbabwean all-rounder Ervine.
Vince said: ‘It was obviously a tricky start but I think we are pretty happy with where we are at the end of the day.
‘They bowled well up front but it was a crucial partnership between myself and Slug (Ervine).
‘It was good. Slug batted really well as well, and if there are two guys batting well in that situation, it makes it a lot easier.
‘As the ball got a bit older and the wicket dried out, it got a bit easier.
‘At 53 for five, if you go into your shell too much, you will probably end up losing a couple more wickets.
‘We just tried to be positive and latched on to anything that wasn’t in a good area.
‘Now we’ve got three big days to do what we wanted at the start of the season.
‘Hopefully, the bowlers can start well and we can put them under pressure.’
Hampshire know that victory will be enough to seal promotion but the draw looks unlikely to be enough now.
And they were in all sorts of trouble after winning the toss and electing to bat as Jim Allenby (four for 22) left them reeling.
He struck with two wickets in his opening over in the space of four balls as Will Smith (10) edged behind, before Liam Dawson departed without scoring.
Vince, however, led the counter-attack with a flurry of boundaries, before skipper Jimmy Adams (10) was the next to walk.
The wickets continued to tumble as 53 for three suddenly became 53 for five.
First Tom Alsop (one) edged a rising delivery from Allenby to Dean Cosker in the gully before Adam Wheater (nought) went lbw shouldering arms to the next ball.
Hampshire battled back impressively either side of lunch, although Vince was dropped at square leg on 47 by David Lloyd off Michael Hogan.
They reached tea at 233 for five having taken their partnership to 180 in 43 overs and had got to 278 for six before Glamorgan roared back.
Vince eventually went as he holed out on the boundary after a brilliant 214-ball effort with 21 fours.
Ervine soon followed but Chris Wood (35) and Imran Tahir (22 not out) also added useful late runs.