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Essex leave Hampshire with a mountain to climb
7:00pm Thursday 6th September 2012 in Sport
HAMPSHIRE, having been challenged to make the highest fourth-innings score in an County Championship match at the Ageas Bowl, face an uphill battle to stave off defeat against Essex on tomorrow's day.
Set a daunting 427 to win, Hampshire were struggling at 73 for three at stumps on day three. They require a further 354 runs to win, with seven wickets intact.
Essex, 217 for two at start of play, were eventually dismissed for 475, with Owais Shah taking his unbeaten 124 overnight to 161.
They made little headway during a protracted morning session, scoring only 60 runs in 30 overs, with the obdurate Tom Craddock (16) batting for almost two hours in his nightwatchman role.
Craddock and Shah fell either side of after lunch, the former England batsman hitting a six and 28 fours in compiling his second Championship hundred in three matches.
The Ageas Bowl surface, which offered plenty of bounce and movement for the bowlers on the opening two days, had baked into a benign batsman-friendly state and Hampshire’s bowlers toiled for their few rewards.
Mark Pettini (17) provided left-arm spinner Liam Dawson (three for 119) with his first victim in a lengthy 34.4-over stint but the arrival of Ryan ten Doeschate at the crease hastened a generally pedestrian scoring rate.
The Dutchman put purpose into the Essex innings, hitting two sixes and 10 fours in a bright and breezy 69 from 61 balls.
He added 89 with James Foster (61), whose own partnership of 45 with Adam Wheater (42 not out) progressed the Essex lead beyond 400.
David Balcombe, with five for 103, eventually cut through the Essex lower order to bag his third five-wicket haul of the season but his first since mid-April against Glamorgan.
Hampshire's already slim prospects of chasing down such a sizeable total were dealt a triple blow in the final 20 overs of play - all at the hands of Maurice Chambers.
In the seventh over, Michael Carberry (six), without a Championship century since making 111 against Warwickshire last September, pulled a short-pitched delivery from Reece Topley straight to Chambers at deep backward square.
Ten balls later, the Jamaican-born paceman had Bilal Shafayat (three) caught behind by Foster to leave Hampshire 23 for two.
And, with his next delivery, Chambers (two for 25) had former Australia Test left-hander Simon Katich caught at slip by Shah.
But Jimmy Adams (36 not out) and Dawson, with an unbeaten 25, added an unbroken 50 to see Hampshire through to stumps.