Hampshire shot to a straightforward eight-wicket victory over Nottinghamshire to demonstrate their LV= County Championship credentials.
Fletcha Middleton’s second half-century of the match helped the hosts to chase down a target of 132 with ease as they look to put two near misses behind them and land their first title in 50 years.
Hampshire won more games than any other team last season, and they picked up where they left off with Middleton scoring 65 and Nick Gubbins an unbeaten 54 in a 111-run second-wicket stand.
The third day of Essex’s clash with Middlesex at Lord’s saw them easily remove Middlesex’s top order for a second time to close in on victory.
Set a target of 308, Middlesex fell to bits on their first outing in Division One since promotion last summer. After their top four fell for ducks in the first innings, Mark Stoneman completed a pair and Sam Robson and Pieter Malan made three and four respectively.
Stephen Eskinazi at least reached the close on 24 not out, but his side were 77 for five and need 231 runs to win when play resumes.
Surrey set Lancashire 444 to win as Ben Foakes hit an unbeaten 103 from 95 balls at Old Trafford.
Matt Parkinson took five for 120 but Surrey declared on 292 for six before Lancashire closed on 37 without loss.
Elsewhere, Rob Keogh hit a century for Northamptonshire as they hauled their way into contention against Kent. He helped his side to 300 for seven, a lead of 195.
Peter Handscomb and Rehan Ahmed led a Leicestershire fightback against Division Two title favourites Yorkshire, hitting back against a first-innings total of 517 with Handscomb posting 112 and Ahmed 85 to haul the visitors to 415. Yorkshire were 220 for four in their second innings.
Alex Davies hit his seventh first-class century as Warwickshire built a first-innings lead over Somerset at Taunton, whilst a Matthew Waite century put Worcestershire in a strong position on day three against Derbyshire. The Pears made 473 and then had their hosts 269 for six, a lead of only 117.
Sussex were 172 for five chasing 231 to beat Durham, leaving a short but tense final day in prospect, while Gloucestershire fought back against Glamorgan to reach 373 for five in their second innings and lead by 134 runs.