Hashim Amla scored his first fifty for Hampshire as he and Kyle Abbott battled to keep the county in the game against Surrey.
Amla, who last week battled tough conditions for a pair of 36s, was last man out on 55, having boosted Hampshire to 147, still a daunting 64 behind Surrey’s 211. He and Abbott put on 31 for the eighth wicket.
Abbott then took three wickets as Surrey pushed the lead to 281, with Dean Elgar scoring 22.
Warriors off-spinner Simon Harmer picked up where he had left off last season, when he was the best spinner on show with 72 wickets. He ended with 5-46 off 15 overs to help bowl out Lancashire for 144, a deficit of six. Dane Vilas was second-top scorer with 25 in that innings.
Harmer then added a valuable 49, batting at No 9, enabling Essex to reach 313 at stumps and offer Lancs a target of 319 with two days to go.
In Division Two, it was a brutal introduction to county cricket for Aiden Markram. He has the bizarre record of being the first player to record a pair on day one of the club’s season. A total of 21 wickets fell on that first day, and 10 followed on day two. Durham were bowled out for 170 in their second attempt, which left Kent with a target of 94.
Heino Kuhn, who took a Kolpak contract in March, stepped up again, following his first innings top score of 54 with an unbeaten 36 as Kent won by nine wickets in a match that lasted barely five sessions.
Hardus Viljoen, who ended as the leading batsman on an unbeaten 60 in Derbyshire’s first innings of 265, added two wickets to help bowl Middlesex out for 157. The spearhead of that attack, though, was Duanne Olivier, who took 4-26 off 13 overs.
Derbyshire were 118-0 in a rain-interrupted innings, a lead of 226.