Jonathan Trott’s watchful century handed Warwickshire hopes of saving a draw despite losing early wickets after being forced to follow-on by Hampshire.
Trott batted for the entire day, other than 14 balls at the start of Warwickshire’s second innings, collecting his third century of the season before ending the day 17 not out.
But Warwickshire still trail Hampshire by 186 runs going into the final day with eight wickets in hand.
Trott returned home to Birmingham at the beginning of day two following a family emergency before coming back to bat at an unfamiliar No.8.
Despite his lowly place in the batting order he still had time to take a large chunk out of the game to frustrate Hampshire, with blue skies often threatened by dark clouds on a pitch suited for batting.
As has been seen by Trott for both county and England he proved a rear-guard innings which forced upbeat Hampshire to toil – having boasted the best of the opening two days.
Grant Thornton, who appeared as a night-watchman on the previous evening, was the only wicket to fall in the morning as he edged to Rilee Rossouw at first slip – with Abbott angling it across him aggressively.
Trott’s long 42-over partnership with Keith Barker was a textbook move to both take time out the game and bat yourself into form.
The pair started in purely blocking mode before carefully freeing their arms where appropriate.
Trott and Barker put on 104 together, with only a few morning leg before appeals putting any major worries to the duo.
Barker scored a patient 63, his half century coming off 97 deliveries, before Sean Ervine, bowling off spin, had him caught at first slip. The stand had given a renewed hope of forcing a draw but that appeared to be distinguished again when Boyd Rankin was bowled by Mason Crane for four, although more importantly he only used up 16 balls.
Enter Sunny Singh on just his third first class appearance, second in the Championship, having never scored a professional run.
Trott shielded him for an early burst, with the more experienced batsman moving past a 115 ball fifty.
With Singh appearing more confident was given more responsibility, as Hampshire started to look bereft of ideas, clipping balls confidently and maturely around the Ageas Bowl.
Trott, meanwhile, continued in his shell-like state, and after a prolonged afternoon session brought up a potentially match saving century.
He fell to the first ball after tea to wrap up the innings with Warwickshire trailing by 261 – which allowed George Bailey to enforce the follow-on.
Hampshire were given 21 overs to make in-roads into the Warwickshire batting line-up for a second time – with rain forecast on the final day.
Abbott became the highest wicket taker in the Championship this season when he notched up his 32nd scalp of the campaign – with Ian Westwood on the end of a snorter outside off stump, and Jimmy Adams catching well at second slip.
Gareth Berg snatched the other evening wicket as Andrew Umeed feathered behind.
But old adversary Trott and Ian Bell kept alive hopes of saving a draw with a 66 run stand in the embers of the day.
At the end of play, Trott said: “We played the situation OK and given ourselves a chance tomorrow. We batted well tonight and Ian came in and made it look easy. It is quite hard at the non-strikers watching him bat so well.
“It has been a better day. It is a sign of a side willing to fight.”