HAMPSHIRE kept alive their hopes of beating the weather and top-four rivals Surrey after continuing their impressive fightback at The Ageas Bowl.

After beginning the penultimate day on 129-7, having at one stage been 31-5 and 60-6, Hampshire’s lower order added 161 for the last three wickets to secure a first-innings lead of 90.

Once the ball softened, it looked a different game as Ian Holland registered his second half-century in three Championship innings.

When Holland was bowled through the gate by Stuart Meaker, Gareth Berg (80) and Kyle Abbott (37no) responded with a ninth-wicket stand of 93.

Berg reached a 70-ball fifty with a straight six against Gareth Batty, well placed to go make his maiden Hampshire hundred - his nine fifties for the county having included two dismissals for 99.

He was caught behind trying to drive Jade Dernbach in the second over with the second new ball, shortly after securing a second batting point, after facing 116 balls (nine fours, one six).

Abbott and Fidel Edwards threatened to get Hampshire a third before the latter was bowled swinging across the line against a Tom Curran yorker, having made a Championship-best 20.

Surrey were grateful Rory Burns continued his exceptional record against Hampshire.

The left-hander has a Bradman-esque average of 100.14 against the county after taking his aggregate to 701 runs in ten Championship innings against them with 63 (156 balls).

He and Ryan Patel ensured Surrey saw off the new ball, but the visitors were still 49 runs in arrears when they slipped to 51-3.

Liam Dawson (2-24) dismissed Patel and Scott Borthwick in the third and sixth overs of his frugal 20-over spell from the Hotel End.

Following his first-innings 81, Patel gloved a sweep to leg slip for 20, where Sean Ervine moved from first slip to take the catch.

Borthwick, well caught by Tom Alsop to a delivery that kept low, was unfortunate.

Jason Roy, whose off stump was uprooted by Kyle Abbott, was less so.

But Burns, who made an unbeaten 219 against Hampshire at The Oval two months ago, held firm.

He passed fifty for the fifth time in seven innings against Hampshire, from 133 balls, by pulling Joe Weatherley’s off-spin for one of his three fours, during a stand of 71 with Ben Foakes.

But he was lbw to Weatherley with seven overs of the day remaining, before Surrey closed on 135-4 - a lead of 45 going into a final day that is expected to be very rain-affected. The forecast means Surrey’s ninth draw in 11 matches looks inevitable.