Danny Briggs admits Hampshire face a tall order in attempting to bat out the final day of their Championship clash with Worcestershire.
In a game where the Ageas Bowl side have been second best throughout, the visitors tightened their grip in the 40 overs that were possible today, after heavy rain in the morning.
Resuming their first innings on 221 for three in reply to Hampshire’s 222 all out, Daryl Mitchell plundered an excellent 142 not out and Ben Cox hit a brisk 69 not out before the declaration at 403 for five.
It meant the home outfit’s openers then had to bat out three overs at the end of the day, which they survived without the loss of a wicket.
The Hampshire batting line-up will need to stick around rather longer than they did first time around as they try to salvage a draw.
But with a 180-run deficit, they are not under quite as much pressure as they would have been if Worcestershire had not been held up by the weather.
Briggs said: ‘It was a difficult day and it will be a tough final day.
‘We needed some quick wickets to put some pressure on but we didn’t get that.
‘We have given ourselves a tough task to survive but we bat a long way down so hopefully it is a good sign and we can get through the final day.
‘We are confident we can do it and there are not too many gremlins in the wicket, although the odd one does something a bit random.
‘It is a good wicket, a bit slow at times but Worcestershire have got 400 on it so it was nice to bat on.
‘That gives us hope we can do the same on the last day but we need to perform a bit better than we did in the first innings.’
Mitchell and Cox put together an unbroken stand of 114 for the sixth wicket to enable the former to declare with Worcestershire 181 ahead.
The centurion and his team-mates wasted no time when the weather finally allowed them back into action.
New Zealander Colin Munro lifted Sean Ervine’s medium pace over the midwicket boundary for six during a stand of 53 for the fourth wicket.
Hampshire were hampered by the loss through finger injuries of wicketkeeper Adam Wheater and slip fielder Will Smith, but it was Wheater’s young replacement, Lewis McManus, who contributed to Hampshire’s first breakthrough of the day at 267.
Briggs, the pick of a struggling Hampshire attack, induced Munro to edge behind for 34 which also included six fours.
Newcomer Joe Clarke, on his Championship debut, made only six when the same combination accounted for him at 289.
But that only brought Cox to the crease and there was no respite for Hampshire as the pair took Worcestershire past bonus-point-gathering landmarks.
Mitchell reached his first century of the season in the 75th over from the 249th ball he faced and Cox got to his half-century soon afterwards from 53 balls.
Briggs has had to bide his time for Championship opportunities this term but did his cause no harm as the rest of the attack failed to contain Worcestershire.
He said: ‘It’s just good to get out and play some four-day cricket again.’