HASHIM Amla’s defiant batting display staved off defeat for Surrey and thwarted Hampshire’s push for a top-two finish in Group Two of the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Surrey held on for an unlikely draw, ending the day 128 for eight having started it six for two, with former South Africa batsman Amla batting all day for an unbeaten 37 from 278 balls.

Amla demonstrated incredible restraint to repel an attack that bowled an incredible 64 maidens and over 500 dot balls, while the hosts were made to pay dearly for three dropped catches.

Despite Amla’s heroics, the result almost certainly ended any chance of Surrey being one of six teams to qualify for Division One and the opportunity to win the title and the Bob Willis Trophy.

Hampshire now require victory over Gloucestershire, in a potential winner-take-all clash at Cheltenham that starts on Sunday, to keep alive their season, with Surrey facing leaders Somerset at the Kia Oval.

Amla scored just three runs from the first 100 balls he faced and did not find the boundary rope until the 125th ball of his vigil, during which he took three heavy blows to the body.

Hampshire’s attack bowled tirelessly but were left to rue the dropped chances – including a simple opportunity grassed by Ian Holland at leg slip 17 overs from the close when Amla was put down off Keith Barker, who finished with figures of three for nine from 22 overs.

Following-on after being bundled out for just 72 in response to the home side’s 488, the visitors scored just 18 runs in the first session with nightwatchman Amar Virdi the only wicket to fall.

Ryan Patel should have joined Virdi back in the pavilion before lunch but was given two lives after being dropped by Kyle Abbott, off a caught-and-bowled chance, and Joe Weatherley’s second slip spill.

Although those missed opportunities cost only 14 runs, they crucially allowed Patel to soak up 85 balls before his off-stump was uprooted by Abbott after lunch.

Felix Organ took Hampshire’s third wicket of the day when Jamie Smith’s inside edge looped into the hands of Holland, before first-innings centurion Colin de Grandhomme bowled debutante Ben Geddes for 15.

Barker got his third wicket when Jordan Clark was trapped lbw for four, before Organ raised hopes of a home victory when he bowled Jamie Overton.

However, Amla and fellow fellow veteran Rikki Clarke held firm for the final nine overs to see out the draw.