Hampshire secure Surrey draw
Hampshire remain well placed for promotion from LV= County Championship Division Two after their batsmen negotiated the final day at The Oval to secure a draw against third-placed Surrey.
A last-wicket stand of 60 between Danny Briggs and James Tomlinson took their side past the follow-on target before they were bowled out for 354.
The hosts went in again for eight overs before the players shook hands at 4.50pm on a draw with Surrey 13 for none in their second innings.
It was hard work for bowlers on a desperately slow pitch while the loss of 70 overs on the first day to rain did not help either side to force a positive result.
But Hampshire will be the happier of the two. Their lead over third-placed Surrey is 16 points and they have also played a game fewer than their rivals.
Surrey's spinners did the bulk of the bowling on the final day and they shared six of the seven wickets to fall.
Their hopes of making Hampshire follow on were boosted by three wickets in 29 balls during the morning session.
Will Smith, dropped twice on the second day, had made painstaking progress to 82 from 257 balls when he was leg before to Zafar Ansari sweeping out of the rough.
Two balls later Adam Wheater lost his off stump to a delivery from Tim Linley which kept low and Hampshire were up against it on 237 for six when slow left-armer Gareth Batty returned for a second spell and held a stinging return catch from his fifth ball back to remove Matt Coles.
But Sean Ervine found a reliable ally in Kyle Abbott and either side of lunch the seventh-wicket pair added 49 in 23 overs before Abbott holed out to long on to give Vikram Solanki his first Championship wicket since April 2013.
Ervine's important vigil ended six balls later, after just over three hours, when he was taken at backward point for 80 off Tillakaratne Dilshan, whose off breaks then accounted for Brad Taylor who was leg before missing a straight one.
At that stage Hampshire still needed 31 to avoid the follow on but Briggs and number 11 Tomlinson adopted a sensible approach before enjoying themselves once they had reached the follow-on target of 325.
Tomlinson eventually holed out to long on to give Solanki his second wicket after making 27, his highest score of the season.
Tea was delayed while Surrey strived for the last wicket and their openers negotiated the remaining overs with no alarms although with only five Championship games left, and none at The Oval until September 15, their chances of making an immediate return to Division One are fading.
Surrey skipper Gary Wilson admitted a pitch which was used for the second Championship game in succession had made it hard work to force a result.
He said: "We had won the last two games, but it was always going to be tough to make it three in a row against a good Hampshire side on a pitch which didn't really help the bowlers a great deal.
"Gareth Batty is probably going to be two feet smaller at the end of the season because of the number of overs he's bowled, but he and our other spinners did a good job for us.
"The main positive is that we are playing good cricket at the moment and hopefully we can go to Colwyn Bay next week and get a good result against Glamorgan.''
Ervine, whose 80 helped Hampshire bat out the final day, said: "It was a big effort by the guys to bat out the final day, but we always felt we could do it.
"The pitch was very slow so we couldn't score runs at the rate we'd have liked, but the main thing was to get through the final day and we did that well in the end.''