Essex & Hampshire in the balance
County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford
Close, day three: Hampshire 323 & 54-0 dec, Essex 18-0 dec & 102-2
Essex 3pts, Hants 3pts
Essex need a further 258 runs to win with eight wickets remaining going into the final day against Hampshire.
With both sides looking to close the gap on the promotion places, two quick declarations set up an Essex run chase.
Both teams took three bonus points as Hampshire made 323, Neil McKenzie (139) added five to his score from day two.
Essex then declared on 18-0 and the visitors followed suit on 54-0 in their second innings, before the hosts closed day three on 102-2.
Billy Godleman's (37 not out) innings has so far lasted three hours, while Mark Pettini is unbeaten on 16.
Earlier, as Hampshire lost their last four wickets for 15 runs, Harbhajan Singh took his first wicket for Essex coming in his 44th over since he joined them.
The two captains Mark Pettini and Jimmy Adams agreed upon a target that Essex would be set and, after two successive declarations, Essex set about their run chase.