Hampshire were denied a third successive LV County Championship win by the rain after an outstanding bowling performance at The Ageas Bowl this afternoon.

Play eventually began at 2.30pm but there was enough time for Hampshire to threaten a memorable win after the visitors resumed on 31-0, with a minimum of 51 overs in which to survive.

James Tomlinson had Paul Borrington caught behind with the first ball of the day, the start of a sensational first spell (7-5-6-3) from the left-armer.

Stephen Moore (25) soon followed, caught in the covers by Joe Gatting, and Marcus North, the Sheffield Shield’s player of the year in his native Australia, was spectacularly bowled shouldering arms in Tomlinson’s next over.

Tomlinson’s early burst gave Hampshire renewed belief that they could win despite losing so much time.

Then Matt Coles dismissed Scott Elstone and Derbyshire captain Wayne Madsen in successive overs.

Elstone was lbw first ball and Madsen nicked to Will Smith at third slip, after surviving 30 balls for his two runs.

Alex Hughes was the fly in the ointment. He nicked a rising delivery from Coles just short of gully when he had made two but had seen off 85 balls for his 18 runs by the time he saw Derbyshire to the close.

The fact that Kyle Abbott only took one of the wickets to fall is an encouragement for Hampshire with their overseas star set to miss Championship matches later in the season.

After he trapped Gareth Cross in front, Danny Briggs continued his fine match by winning two lbw decisions.

David Wainwright put up strong resistance before he was pinned not playing a short against his fellow slow left-armer and Tony Palladino departed at the end of Briggs’ next over.

A torrential downpour forced the players off with Derbyshire on 104-8. When they returned after the loss of eight overs, Hampshire’s fielders crowded the bat for the denouement while dark clouds skirted the Rose Bowl and thunder crackled in the distance.

But with five overs remaining Hughes and Tim Groenewald needed no second invitation to walk off for bad light, when hands were shaken.

Hampshire at least remain top of the second division following a draw for Worcestershire against Surrey at The Oval.