Hampshire’s hopes of staying in the Specsavers County Championship Division One were boosted with a fine day two, as Brad Wheal picked up three Durham wickets.
Wheal provided an exhilarating evening spell to get rid of dangerous half-centurion Ben Stokes, while spinners Mason Crane and Liam Dawson also chipped in on a turning track.
An early trio of wickets for Hampshire, in Durham’s response to their 411, fluttered away the relegation nerves.
Keaton Jennings was lbw to Gareth Berg in the second over, Scott Borthwick edged Wheal behind before Mark Stoneman skipped down the wicket and pinged to Jimmy Adams at mid-wicket.
Impatient Hampshire were then forced to endure an 87-run partnership between Graham Clark and England man Stokes – the pair eventually going on to make half-centuries.
It was Clark’s second first-class fifty, back-to-back with his maiden half-ton against Surrey last week, chipping away to his highest total of 58, before he fell to spin – edging to a juggling Lewis McManus behind the stumps.
Paul Collingwood departed in the next over when Mason Crane joined the wicket column, another edge behind, and the game whirling back to Hampshire’s firm grasp.
Stokes, known for his hard-hitting brand of cricket, was forced to turn watchful with Dawson, Crane and Will Smith’s constant spin.
He worked patiently to become the seventh player of the match to reach fifty, although he was the slowest in 106-balls.
Durham, and in particular Stokes, had been lulled into a spin trance, and were stunned by Wheal’s electrifying pace and bounce.
The Scotland international accounted for Stokes with the fourth ball of his third spell of the innings, as the all-rounder’s instincts kicked in with a short ball and fell into the trap of picking out Ryan McLaren on the deep square leg boundary.
In his next over, Wheal refused to allow Ryan Pringle to settle, with the batsman flicking round the corner to the waiting Adams at short fine leg.
Wheal, Hampshire’s most improved player of the season, continued to find blistering pace and bounce on a pitch bred to offer the spinners a match winning performance – his four over evening blast boasting figures of two for two.
But Michael Richardson, who ended the day on 50 not out, and Brydon Carse put on 56 for the eighth wicket as the shadows lengthened to sour the day slightly for the hosts.
In the morning, Hampshire had been bowled out for 411, in the process plucking another important bonus point and celebrated Dawson making fifty.
Dawson needed 93-deliveries to move to the milestone, but it was soon eclipsed by the team goal, after he had been trapped lbw by Graham Onions, when McManus streaky edged for four.
The tail fell soon after, as Hampshire lost four wickets for 14 runs, with Berg caught at first slip, Crane comprehensively bowled and McManus sweeping to deep mid-wicket.
But the maximum five batting points were secured, and two further marks were chalked up with the bowling in another positive day in the fight against relegation for Hampshire, with the lead at 169.
Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson said after play: “It was a decent day. We're still 160 runs ahead but this is a wicket where things can happen very quickly.
“You get a partnership and go bang-bang and a new batsman can be out. We need take three quick wickets in the morning, bat quickly and set a score.
“There is going to be a result at Warwickshire but we are in a good position here and they know that as well and we can win this game of cricket.”