Brad Wheal took two wickets and Liam Dawson made a successful return to Hampshire action as Surrey scored 260-6 in the Specsavers County Championship on an opening day affected by bad light at the Kia Oval.
Wheal claimed the key wicket of Rory Burns (101) after Gareth Berg and Gareth Andrew had taken the sting out of Surrey's top order by removing Dominic Sibley (11) and Kumar Sangakkara (26) in the morning session.
Having made his England ODI debut on Sunday, Dawson marked his Hampshire return by removing Sam Curran (17) at the end of an evenly contested first day before bad light wiped out the final 16 overs of play.
After an uncontested toss, Berg took advantage of a seaming pitch by bowling two maidens and supplying an early wicket for Hampshire, finding an edge from Dominic Sibley (11) which carried to the hands of Lewis McManus, diving full-length to his left.
Andrew took Hampshire’s second and final wicket of the morning session, crucially dismissing Kumar Sangakkara after the experienced Sri Lankan batsman hit a series of boundaries to take Surrey past fifty and reach 26 off 31 balls.
Brad Wheal made his mark in an afternoon session briefly interrupted by bad light at the Kia Oval, taking a smart catch to remove Arun Harinath (9) off Ryan McLaren, and dismissing Stephen Davies for 32.
At tea, Surrey were 189-4 and marginally on top at the Oval, despite the regular threat of McLaren and Wheal, with the option of Liam Dawson’s spin still to come.
Surrey’s opening batsman Rory Burns became the key target for Hampshire’s bowlers, having escaped their early pressure to reach 100 and take the home side beyond 200 for four wickets, surpassing 5,000 first-class runs along the way.
After Dawson was introduced after tea, Wheal finally found the breakthrough as Burns was caught smartly by Tom Alsop at short leg to end a 76-run stand for the fifth wicket, which ended with Surrey 220-5.
Dawson, who took two wickets in an England shirt on Sunday, supplied Hampshire's final wicket of the day, as Alsop took another catch close in and Sam Curran walked for 17 before bad light wiped out the final 16 overs of the day, which is finely poised going into day two
Sean Ervine (158*) and Ryan McLaren (100) scored imperious centuries and a record 186-run partnership on a hugely successful day three for Hampshire, posting 582-9 and entering the final day at the Kia Oval leading Surrey by 230 runs in the Specsavers County Championship.
Ervine reached 1,000 Championship runs to give Hampshire the opportunity of clinching victory over third-placed Surrey, who were damaged by Ryan McLaren's first century for the club and thrilling cameos from Lewis McManus (39), Gareth Berg (42) and Gareth Andrew (25).
The visitors can significantly boost their chances of survival in Division One by taking 10 wickets on the final day, after Surrey's opening batsmen, Rory Burns (11*) and Dominic Sibley (12*), replied with 23-0 off nine overs at the end of a memorable day three for Hants.
Ervine and McLaren both reached fifty during the morning session and scored 94 runs together before lunch to help Hampshire recover from losing Tom Alsop (117) and Liam Dawson (8) inside the first eight overs of day three.
Inspired by a maiden first-class century on day two for Alsop, who was dismissed with the second ball of the morning, Hampshire’s in-form pair raced Hants on to 300, securing a second and third batting point for the visitors, and moved to within six runs of Surrey’s 329-run total at the end of the morning session.
Ervine passed fifty for the eighth time this season, and for the seventh time in his last ten innings, facing 101 balls and hitting five boundaries, including a belting maximum. McLaren arrived at his half-ton after facing just 65 balls, going to the break with 12 boundaries, four runs behind Ervine.
Hampshire overtook Surrey in the first over after lunch and relentlessly chased crucial batting points, as McLaren added two more fours to his collection and brought up an impressive 100 partnership.
Ervine smacked Sam Curran for two boundaries in the 103rd over to bring up a fourth batting point and offer Hampshire a glimmer of taking all five. After the allotted 110 overs, Hants had 369-5 and McLaren-Ervine was worth 136 of them.
The left-handers went on to reach respective hundreds as a 186-run partnership - Hampshire's highest ever sixth wicket stand against Surrey - established an 86-run lead for the visitors, McLaren securing his first century in a Hampshire shirt and Ervine hitting a third in five innings, reaffirming his position as the club’s highest run-scorer.
Whilst Ervine continued to flourish, bringing up 1,000 first-class runs for the season, McLaren was dismissed two balls after his ton as Footitt finally found the breakthrough and his fifth wicket.
McManus introduced himself to the action by hitting 25 off 43 balls before tea, as the lead over Surrey extended to 123 runs, and a useful partnership with Ervine reached 65 runs before Gareth Batty struck for the first time and McManus was caught behind.
A thrilling cameo from South African all-rounder Gareth Berg boosted Hampshire’s lead to more than 200 runs, hitting 42 runs off 27 balls, including a feast of 22 runs off four balls off the bowling of Batty.
After Berg was removed, Andrew replicated Berg’s heroics as he hit 20 runs off four Footitt delieveries, taking Hampshire beyond 550, and Brad Wheal added 10 runs off two balls to spark a declaration on 582-9, Hampshire's highest total of the season.
Surrey's openers, Burns and Sibley, responded with 23 runs off nine overs at the end of day three and trail by 230 runs against Hampshire, who require a strong bowling performance to seal victory in their final away fixture of 2016.
Hampshire were denied a survival-boosting victory in the Specsavers County Championship as Surrey responded to the visitors' mammoth total with 248-3 before rain at the Kia Oval confirmed a draw.
Morning wickets for Liam Dawson and Brad Wheal gave Hampshire real hope of securing 23 points from a maximum 24, but a century partnership between Kumar Sangakkara (84*) and Arun Harinath (57) meant Hants had to settle for 12 points at the end of an otherwise dominant performance at Kennington.
Despite Surrey quashing Hampshire's victory charge, the visiting side will reflect on their penultimate game of the 2016 season with fond memories, after Tom Alsop, Sean Ervine and Ryan McLaren compiled unforgettable first-innings centuries on days two and three. Optimism was further boosted by defeats for the other sides looking to evade relegation in Warwickshire and Durham, who travel to the Ageas Bowl on 20th September.
When the sides met at the Ageas Bowl in July, Hampshire were confronted with the task of keeping out Surrey’s bowling attack in order to avoid defeat, to which they were cruelly subjected with 28 balls left in the match. Two months on, roles were reversed on the final day at the Kia Oval as Hampshire set about taking ten wickets to clinch a second away victory of the season and boost their chances of Division One survival.
Beginning well during the morning session by taking Surrey’s opening pair, their hopes of bowling out their opponents were dealt a major setback by a century stand from Arun Harinath and Kumar Sangakkara, who looked certain the reach his hundred in the evening session before rain set in.
Before lunch, Dawson had forced a loose prod from Rory Burns (18) and Hants’ young century hero Tom Alsop pounced at short leg to end the opening partnership at 49 runs.
Brad Wheal then took his fifth wicket of the match to reduce Surrey to 91-2 in the 37th over, as Dominic Sibley (44) was caught excellently down leg side by an agile Lewis McManus, diving to his left.
After Surrey’s post-lunch resistance, Ervine, who had batted majestically to make 158 not out on day three, rejuvenated the visitors’ optimism by striking with his second ball, as McManus produced another athletic catch to remove Harinath.
It was to be the final breakthrough though, as a downpour interrupted a fifty partnership between Sangakkara and Steven Davies (29*), with Surrey 248-3 in the 83rd over, and rain showers continued to confirm a match Hampshire had controlled on days two and three as a draw.
The visiting side take 12 points from Kennington, with Surrey's batting resilience earning the home side a total of nine.