Five wickets stand between Hampshire and their first Championship success of the season after they worked their way through Worcestershire’s batting line-up on a gritty day three.
If the weather at the Ageas Bowl stays fine today – and the forecast looks good – Hampshire will complete victory to further enhance their promotion credentials.
Apart from the hint of some miraculous batting from Worcestershire – and there has been precious little evidence of that so far in this game – the only thing that looks likely to stop Jimmy Adams’ side will be the weather.
Having posted their 500 for nine declared, Hampshire knew they faced the probable hard slog of finding 20 wickets without much rest.
But they are three quarters of the way there.
With Worcestershire resuming their first innings on 159 for five, they were cleaned up without too much fuss before lunch.
Once James Tomlinson (three for 52) had removed Neil Pinner (29), the rest followed soon afterwards and Hampshire predictably enforced the follow-on.
It was worth noting that Worcestershire’s total of 206 was 13 runs fewer than what Adams managed on his own.
Worcestershire resume on a very similar 153 for five on the final day – still 142 runs away from making Hampshire bat again.
But if the visitors are looking for a shred of hope, one man certainly stood up to the challenge in impressive style as skipper Daryl Mitchell (71 not out) led the way by dropping anchor and batting time.
The opener was not exactly freescoring, accumulating his runs from 210 balls and only five boundaries, but at least he showed some fight.
Annoyingly, he was dropped by wicketkeeper Adam Wheater – admittedly, a tough low chance from Chris Wood’s bowling – when he was on just two.
If that had been taken, it could already be game over.
Just as they were in the first innings, the wickets were shared around, with even James Vince (one for 16) grabbing his first Championship scalp with a beauty that clattered Alexei Kervezee’s middle stump.
But as long as the bowlers do their job again, it will be a home win.