In the end, it was not the pitch or the toss that did for Hampshire, but Saqlain Mushtaq. The suspicions about the Surrey strip turning unduly were finally dispelled when Lord's gave it the all-clear on Friday evening, which left Saqlain free to mesmerise Hampshire and send them spinning to the brink of defeat yesterday.
Only a stubborn, unbroken stand of 56 between Dimitri Mascarenhas and James Hamblin took proceedings into the fourth and final day today. Surrey took the extra half hour, but bad light then scuppered them and Hampshire fight on, still 83 runs behind.
But while the Hampshire tail showed up their specialist batsmen and defied the Pakistani off-spinner, Surrey and Saqlain look unstoppable. The Pakistani off-spinner claimed his 10th 10-wicket haul for Surrey and his first for them for two years.
His wiles and wizardry told on Hampshire, along with the superlative close fielding of Surrey. Star of the men around the bat was Nadeem Shahid, whose outstanding one-handed, reflex catch to dismiss John Francis was the highlight of the day.
None of Saqlain's victims appeared able to read him. It was not until the lower Hampshire order appeared that there was any sign of aggression, when Mascarenhas muscled his way to a defiant half century.
All day, Hollioake had been able to set attacking fields, thanks to the huge first-innings advantage which Surrey secured by picking up where they had left off the night before. Alistair Brown and Jon Batty added a further 60 runs, taking their sixth-wicket stand to 154 before the former went for a fifth six and holed out in the deep for 135 as Jason Laney, running towards the boundary, took the catch over his shoulder – the first of three by the Hampshire man.
The remainder of the Surrey batting clearly had their orders, because they came and went in a flurry of hits as they powered past 500 runs for the fifth time this season and cruised into control of this match.
There was little mercy shown to the toiling Hampshire attack. Shaun Udal, their off-spinner, was hit for 213 runs, which is believed to be the highest number conceded by a Hampshire bowler in the Championship and the second-highest by a bowler against Surrey. Udal's 200 was brought up with a six by Ian Salisbury and, in all, seven Surrey batsmen hit sixes.
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