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Godleman battles on for Essex

Essex CCC

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On a day of two declarations, Essex and Hampshire were locked in an intriguing struggle for victory in their LV=County Championship battle at Chelmsford.

Faced with a target of 360, Essex will go into the final day on 102 for two, with Billy Godleman seeking to add to his 37 that has so far spanned three hours.

Following a washout on the second day, Hampshire lost their remaining wickets for 20 runs after resuming on 303 for six.

Neil McKenzie added just five to his overnight 134 before he was caught behind pushing forward against David Masters; he struck 14 fours and faced 282 balls.

Graham Napier claimed two of the other wickets to finish with 4-62 and India spinner Harbhajan Singh brought the Hampshire innings to an end by having Danny Briggs caught in the covers for his first Essex wicket.

Billy Godleman

Opening batsman Billy Godleman will resume on 37 against Hampshire with Essex needing 258 runs for victory tomorrow

It came in Harbhajan's 44th over since he joined and followed 13 wicketless overs in the previous match against Gloucestershire.

Essex openers Godleman and Jaik Mickleburgh then crawled to 18 in as many overs before lunch, at which point the declaration came with the home side still 305 runs adrift.

It appeared captains Mark Pettini and Jimmy Adams had agreed upon a target that Essex would be set and Hampshire declared their second innings after openers McKenzie and Adams had reached 54 without loss in the 15th over.

That left Essex four and a half sessions to try and claim only their second victory in this year's competition, but they were to lose Mickleburgh when he was bowled by James Tomlinson attempting to turn the ball to leg.

While Godleman continued to drop anchor, Tom Westley struck an entertaining 26 before being removed lbw by David Balcombe with Essex still 300 runs short of their target. However, that was to prove Hampshire's last success.

The rock-like figure of Godleman has so far faced 141 deliveries and will resume his partnership with Pettini, who is 16 not out, as Essex go in search of a further 258 runs for victory.

The pair have so far put on 42 in 24 overs and, while the home side still face a huge task to achieve their objective, the placid nature of the pitch gives them hope of a victory which seemed remote at the start of the day.

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