Hampshire improved their chances of avoiding relegation from division one of the County Championship after a dominant third-day performance put them in a position to press for victory against Surrey at The Kia Oval.
Sean Ervine made an unbeaten 158 and Ryan McLaren 100 to add to Tom Alsop’s 117 as they piled up 582 for nine, Hampshire’s highest total against Surrey at The Oval, to establish a first-innings lead of 253.
Surrey’s openers Dom Sibley and Rory Burns survived nine overs before stumps to take their side to 23 for 0, still trailing by 230.
Hampshire’s eventual position of superiority looked unlikely in the first hour when left-armer Mark Footitt found some away swing to have Alsop caught behind off the second ball of the day after Alsop failed to add to his overnight 117 before Liam Dawson (8) clipped to short mid-wicket.
But the day was transformed by a stand of 186 in 44 overs between Ervine, who scored his third century in his last five completed Championship innings, and all-rounder McLaren, whose 100 was his first century for Hampshire and the sixth of his career.
Their partnership was also a sixth-wicket record against Surrey for the county, beating the 184 by Mark Nicholas and Adrian Aymes at Southampton in 1994.
With few balls deviating off the straight on a flat pitch, McLaren was the more aggressive of the two and reached three figures with a drive down the ground off Footitt which brought him his 18th boundary. He was dismissed two balls later after chipping a catch to wide mid-on but it didn’t signal the end of hard labour for Surrey’s tiring attack.
Lewis McManus made 39 out of a stand of 65 in 22 overs with Ervine and after he was caught behind off Gareth Batty, to give the off-spinner a wicket in his 31st over, Gareth Berg and Gareth Andrew sped Hampshire towards their declaration with some powerful hitting.
Berg made 42 off 28 balls, striking Batty for three successive sixes, and Andrew spoilt Footitt’s figures by taking him for 21 in an over, including two sixes, on his way to 25 off 14 deliveries. Footitt finished with 6 for 161, having taken eight wickets in his previous Championship game against Lancashire.
Ervine offered just one chance when Ben Foakes missed a stumping when he was on 147 as he reached 1,000 Championship runs for the season. The 33-year-old left-hander batted for a minute shy of seven hours, faced 286 balls and hit 16 fours and two sixes. It was the first time since 1992 that three Hampshire batsman have scored hundreds in the same Championship innings and the first occasion in this fixture.