Trent Bridge contest intriguingly poised
Twelve wickets fell under slate-grey skies as Nottinghamshire and Surrey each pressed for a victory that would enhance their claims of moving away from the lower reaches of the LV= County Championship Division One table.
Set a victory target of 259, the visitors had made 73 for three when the deteriorating conditions enforced an early closure at Trent Bridge.
A spirited burst from Luke Fletcher had removed both Jason Roy and Arun Harinath with Surrey's second-innings run-chase immediately plunged into disarray.
Vikram Solanki's disappointing day came to an abrupt end when he was then run out without scoring, thanks to a brilliant piece of work by Steven Mullaney, who pulled off a direct hit from midwicket.
With the floodlights on throughout, the Nottinghamshire second innings ended on 191, with Stuart Meaker collecting his second four-wicket haul of the contest.
The opening exchanges of the day had been far from conventional with nightwatchman Fletcher given licence to go for his shots. Dropped twice in the slips, by Solanki - who had to go off for treatment to a finger injury - and then by Roy, the 24-year old blazed four boundaries in a quickfire innings of 26 before falling to Meaker.
In contrast, Australia opener Ed Cowan made a patient 20 in 158 minutes, before chopping Jade Dernbach onto his stumps as Surrey claimed the first of the eight wickets they would take in the afternoon session.
Meaker, as in the first innings, posed the greatest threat - not only to the comfort of the batsmen but also to the well-being of his own slip fielders, particularly Roy - who followed Solanki in receiving a painful blow to the hand from a snick by Paul Franks.
Following his first innings haul of 4-70, Meaker returned an equally-impressive 4-64, with Samit Patel - who top-scored with 37 - among his victims.
Dernbach offered sterling support and removed both James Taylor and Riki Wessels in consecutive deliveries, each pushing frantically at away-swingers.
An entertaining last-wicket stand of 30 between Ajmal Shahzad and Harry Gurney delighted the crowd but frustrated the fielders, particularly when they had the temerity to pinch a single to the wicketkeeper.
The fun ended when Shahzad was run out going for a risky second - but his score of 20 was not only his highest score for his new county but was also very timely.
With an indifferent weather forecast issued for the final day it may be that both sides will be denied the opportunity of pressing for the 16 points available for the winners.