Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth completed his first Specsavers County Championship century since last June on a rain-affected third day against Hampshire.
Opener Lyth reached his 23rd first-class hundred as Yorkshire strengthened their grip on this penultimate round clash against a visiting side whose Division One safety was mathematically confirmed by Worcestershire’s defeat at Essex.
The 30-year-old left-hander advanced from 60 overnight to 134 not out as Yorkshire, leading by 27 on first innings, moved from 172 for four to 287 for five.
They led by 314 when the rain arrived during the lunch break, and there was no more play possible.
Heading into day four, Yorkshire still have a realistic chance of victory as long as there is no more weather interruption.
If they win, they will also, like Hampshire, be mathematically safe from relegation.
But five points for the draw would leave them needing a maximum of just two points from next week’s final round clash with Worcestershire at New Road, so they would be satisfied with that outcome as well.
Lyth has endured a largely frustrating season, with only two half-centuries prior to this.
He completed a fifth-wicket stand of 133 inside 42 overs with Jonny Tattersall, who added 43.
Both men were dropped during the 33 overs bowled – Lyth twice – as stand-in wicketkeeper Aneurin Donald endured a difficult spell.
Substitute fielder Donald took the gloves after Tom Alsop injured his left thumb and departed for an x-ray and scans. Alsop will bat if required, but will not keep for the rest of this game and has been ruled out of next week’s clash with Lancashire amid fears of ligament damage and a fracture.
Donald, diving to his right, impaired first slip Ian Holland when Tattersall, on 16, got an edge off Kyle Abbott as he tried to leave.
Lyth was then dropped twice by Donald off Liam Dawson’s left-arm spin. The first came when he was on 80 – Dawson’s first ball of the morning – and the second on 94, before a convincing appeal for caught behind next ball was turned down by umpire Graham Lloyd.
Dawson took the only wicket to fall during the morning, Tattersall caught at short fine-leg sweeping as the score fell to 265 for five in the 73rd over.
Lyth has hit 17 fours in his 219 balls so far, and he will be joined at the crease by Tim Bresnan on four at the start of the final day after umpires Lloyd and Michael Gough abandoned play just after 2.30pm.
Lyth said: “We’re in a very strong position, so we could do with the rain shifting.
“Hopefully we can get out there and keep being positive. Then we can try and declare and have a go at them.
“I’ve been on the wrong end of some pretty average decisions if I’m being honest, and it’s been a very frustrating season in red ball cricket. You could probably see by my reaction when I ended up getting a hundred how pleased I was.”
Hampshire coach Craig White said: “The last few years we’ve been coming into the last game of the season in a massive relegation battle.
“With one game left, knowing we’re safe is a great feeling. It’s quite a relief actually.
“The pitch is flattening out, so we were thinking 300 to 320 might be a decent chase. We’ll see what we get tomorrow weather-wise but if we bat well, we might have a chance of getting the runs.”