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Match in the balance after day two

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An unbeaten partnership of 164 between Lancashire openers Luke Wells and Keaton Jennings saw the hosts get themselves get back into the game on day two of this LV=Insurance County Championship Division One clash with Somerset at Southport.

Wells will resume the third day on the rather precipitous score of 99 not out while Jennings is unbeaten on 61 with just five wickets falling throughout the three sessions of another fine day of cricket on the Sefton coast

The Red Rose fightback came after the visitors were dismissed mid-way through the afternoon session for 446 with Roelof van der Merwe contributing a valuable half-century along with useful runs from Lewis Gregory and Jack Brook.

Somerset resumed on 297 for five under far cloudier conditions than the previous day and immediately went on the hunt for both quick runs and bonus points. Gregory had contributed 42 runs before hooking Will Williams, who finished with three for 85,  to Jack Morley on the leg side boundary, while Lewis Goldsworthy’s brilliant knock ended when he was strangled down the leg side for 130 to gift George Balderson a wicket.

When Peter Siddle was caught well by a tumbling Morley in the deep off Luke Wood for just five it looked like Somerset might be dismissed for under 400, but van der Merwe and the always entertaining Brook had other ideas as they moved the score on to 403 before the former Yorkshire seamer was out lbw to Morley for 27.

When van der Merwe’s poles were uprooted by Wood he had made 55 with Amar Virdi left unbeaten on 15 and the visitors would have been left well satisfied with a total that was the highest conceded by Lancashire so far this season.

That satisfaction slowly turned to frustration as Wells and Jennings set about constructing a reply with the kind of patience and determination that has been their hallmark this season.

Play was slow going at times, with the veteran Siddle in particular excelling against his former side, sending down five consecutive maiden overs in his opening spell with Brooks equally stingy at the other end.

Instead the openers were happy to wait for the introduction of van der Merwe and Virdi as they looked to go after the spinners on a pitch that Lancashire will hope begins to show more signs of turn when it is their opportunity to bowl on it on day three or four.

Both bowlers were dispatched for straight sixes by Wells and Jennings in turn and while Gregory bowled tightly this was a chanceless period of play from the opening pair.

A century partnership turned into one of 150 and then the sport became all about whether Wells could reach his ton before the close of play as an entertaining game of cat and mouse with the Somerset fielders left the opener facing a nervous night’s sleep as Lancashire closed on 164-0 from 53 overs.

At the close of play, Peter Siddle said: “We would have liked to have got a couple of wickets but I think we’re still roughly 300 runs in front so we’re still ahead in the game at the minute.

“Credit to the bowlers. We toiled well and the boys in the field hustled around and created a couple of chances and there were plenty of played and misses. It could have been a different story on another day.

“Tomorrow morning is a big first session for us. Hopefully if we can get a couple of wickets we can see how the game rolls on from there.

“It’s going to be a lot harder for us to get a result but we need to keep the game going in our favour and we’ll do that by taking wickets. It is a wicket that is hard to get started on and we saw that today – it took them a while to get in and when they did it got easier.”

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