Hampshire nightwatchman Mason Crane batted through the first two and a bit sessions of day four as Yorkshire’s bid for an LV= Insurance County Championship victory at the Ageas Bowl was thwarted at the last, the game finishing in a compelling draw.

The White Rose dominated this opening round Division One fixture and, heading into the final day, were in an excellent position to force home the win with the hosts at 26-2 from 19 overs chasing a nominal 393.

Unfortunately, Crane, who faced five balls late on day three, held firm on a slow and low pitch to reach 28 off 197 and help his side close on 177-9.

Injured fast bowlers Kyle Abbott and Brad Wheal batted out a thrilling final 7.4 overs, six of them against double spin in fading light, to seal 11 points for their side to Yorkshire’s 12.

Yorkshire needed six wickets in 35 overs at tea, and Hampshire captain James Vince also resisted as wickets fell around him, finishing with 42 off 151. He was the penultimate wicket to fall – one of four to the superb Jordan Thompson (4-18).

The White Rose finished with a dozen points from their first of four remaining top-flight matches which will decide the county champions and the Bob Willis Trophy finalists. They sit bottom of the top-flight table on 16.5 points, as many behind leaders Warwickshire.

The innings of Crane and Vince were supplemented by opener Joe Weatherley’s 43 off 137.

There was little help evident for bowlers aside from a touch of uneven bounce and some turn for Dom Bess as Yorkshire left themselves a total of 115 overs to force the win following their evening declaration on day three.

The White Rose struck once in each of the first two sessions of day four, with Hampshire reaching lunch at 76-3 from 51 overs and tea at 120-4 from 80.

This was a day all about discipline with both bat and ball, with very few attacking shots played from the home side.

As Yorkshire’s bowlers toiled away, Steve Patterson had every outfielder in a catching position around the bat for large parts of the day.

This was the most balls Crane has ever faced in an innings, though he fell one run short of equalling a career best score.

He was still a long way short of matching the most famous nightwatchman’s innings, however, with former Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie facing 425 balls when he made an unbeaten 201 for Australia in a Test Match against Bangladesh in 2006.

Thompson made the morning breakthrough when he trapped Weatherley lbw playing around a straight one for 43, leaving the score at 74-3 in the 47th over – the 28th of the day.

Matthew Fisher claimed the afternoon wicket when he had Nick Gubbins caught and bowled, one-handed above his head, following a miscued pull. That left Hampshire at 86-4 in the 57th over of the innings.

At tea, Crane’s work had almost put the draw as the most likely result with a minimum of 35 overs remaining.

But Fisher quickly changed that thought.

Eleven balls into the evening, he had Crane caught at second slip by Adam Lyth as he tried to leave alone and edged a ball which bounced more than he expected – 120-5 in the 82nd.

In his next over, Liam Dawson was trapped lbw for a duck (124-6).

Thompson was next to strike when he bowled wicketkeeper Lewis McManus as Hampshire fell to 159-7 in the 99th. That left the visitors with a little more than 25 overs in which to claim the last three wickets.

Vince and injured seamer Abbott (ankle) resisted for nearly nine overs before Thompson got the prized wicket of the latter – trapped lbw.

Vince and injured seamer Abbott (ankle) resisted for nearly nine overs before Thompson got the prized wicket of the latter – trapped lbw.

At 177-9, Abbott and Wheal, also carrying a knee injury, were left with 7.4 overs to survive in fading light. Yorkshire were forced to bowl the double spin of Bess and Lyth for the last six. And, unfortunately, they weren’t able to make the final breakthrough.

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