HAMPSHIRE are heading for another Championship defeat, despite a slightly improved batting performance at Lord’s.
Half-centuries from Sean Terry (52) and Adam Wheater (50) – made in very different ways – at least showed a modicum of fight from the Ageas Bowl side.
While opener Terry laboured patiently for nearly three-and-a half-hours for his second fifty of the season, Wheater gave the Hampshire innings belated impetus with a trademark counter-attacking knock from just 45 balls.
But it looks like a lost cause going into the final day as they lead by just 41 runs with three wickets remaining as they reached stumps on 195 for seven.
It means Gareth Berg (18 not out) and Danny Briggs (five not out) will attempt to bat time and extend the lead beyond 100 to at least give Hampshire something to bowl at.
But it looks a forlorn task in attempting to avoid another defeat and leave them deep in relegation trouble.
Resuming on 298 for eight, Middlesex added another 32 runs as they were dismissed for 330 – a lead of 154 after Hampshire’s paltry 176 in their first innings.
Hampshire made a decent start to their second innings as Jimmy Adams (28) and Terry reached 44 without loss before the skipper was out just before lunch.
He mis-timed a pull and was caught down the leg side before Michael Carberry’s miserable form continued as he made just one.
The former England left-hander has scored just 90 runs in his last eight Championship innings after he was caught behind pushing half-forward to James Harris (three for 60).
James Vince (three) lost his off stump playing down the wrong line.
Terry and Smith regrouped in an afternoon session which yielded just 58 runs in 34 overs.
Smith offered a chance on five which the diving Nick Compton got a hand to at mid-wicket but could not hold on as the fourth wicket pair added 50 in 31 overs.
Terry faced 171 balls and hit six fours but fell to the sixth ball after tea, leg before when Tim Murtagh shaped one in down the slope.
Wheater attacked from the start, overtaking Smith when he reached 25 from 71 fewer deliveries as he drove impressively and rotated the strike.
But Ollie Rayner (three for 44) had settled into a groove at the pavilion end by then and picked up belated reward with three wickets.
Smith was caught at backward point off a leading edge after labouring nearly three hours and 123 balls for 30, which included just two boundaries.
Then Wheater played a poor shot across the line of the delivery after reaching a 45-ball 50.
Rayner’s arm ball was too good for Joe Gatting (four) but Berg and Briggs took their side safely to stumps.
Earlier, Middlesex had been bowled out for 330 in their first innings.
Brad Wheal removed Rayner shortly after he’d reached his half-century to finish with career-best figures of four for 101.