Match finely poised after day three
This Specsavers County Championship First Division match between Somerset and Essex is finely poised after the third day at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
The visitors looked up against in when set a victory target of 336 on a turning pitch but Nick Browne (75 not out) and Tom Westley (43 not out) took the score from 58 for one to 147 for one at the close, leaving a further 189 to score tomorrow.
Earlier the Essex bowlers had dismissed Somerset for 202 in their second innings, off-spinner Simon Harmer finishing with four for 69. Eddie Byrom top-scored with 42, while there were two wickets each for Sam Cook and Peter Siddle.
The day had begun with the hosts on 32 for one in their second innings and leading by 165. After Cook had nightwatchman Dom Bess caught at second slip for 12, Siddle and Harmer combined to make it a tough test for the batsmen. Harmer had Azhar Ali picked up at leg gully for 23 and sent back Byrom lbw, while Siddle bowled James Hildreth.
By the time the lunch interval arrived Somerset were 127 for five, 260 runs ahead.
The afternoon session saw Tom Abell (27) pouched at leg-slip off Harmer, and after hitting Siddle for a six over deep square, Lewis Gregory perished for 11, caught one-handed by Chopra at slip to give the off-spinner his fourth wicket.
Jamie Overton came out in positive mood, but had made only ten when bowled middle stump trying to lift Siddle over the short mid-wicket boundary.
Jack Leach then fell and although Steve Davies played sensibly for his 29 he was caught at fine leg off Jamie Porter as Somerset were all out for 202.
Essex openers Browne and Chopra, realising the spinners were the main danger, attacked the first six overs of seam, plundering 37 off Gregory and Josh Davey.
Skipper Abell then introduced Leach and Bess but at tea Essex were 52 without loss, requiring a further 284.
Soon after the interval, Leach broke the opening stand on 58 as Chopra went leg-before for 24.
With Westley offering sensible support, Browne moved to his half-century off 93 balls, hitting nine fours.
At the close of play Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “From where we were this morning to where we are now we are a little bit disappointed. I think that things can change very quickly on this surface. Traditionally here the third day is a really good wicket and in the evening session it tends to flatten out, so tomorrow’s first session will be crucial.
“There was a real opportunity for us to make a good score and make sure there was only one winner. We got a lot of starts and Eddie Byrom played really well, but nobody went on to post that really big score and it’s left the game in the balance.
“Jack Leach bowled beautifully for us this afternoon. We only bowled five maidens and he bowled four of those. It’s great to see him back.
“We need to dust ourselves off and come hard again tomorrow morning.”
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