Somerset on top after dramatic second day

Somerset are in the driving seat of this Specsavers County Championship match against Yorkshire after a dominant display on the second day at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The hosts bowled out their opponents for 103, from an overnight 70 for three, to lead by 96 on first innings. The last six wickets fell for just 17 runs, with Ben Coad unable to bat because of illness, as Roelof van der Merwe finished with three for 14 and Josh Davey three for 30.

Then, after slipping to four for two in their second innings, Somerset recovered in style, thanks largely to James Hildreth (58) and Tom Abell (62), to reach 269 for five and extend their advantage to 365.

Having progressed to 86 for three, the visitors’ first innings lasted only 7.1 more overs. Left-arm spinner van der Merwe struck three times from the River End, while Davey sent back Harry Brook and Tim Bresnan in his first over of the day from the Somerset Pavilion End.

The ball was turning for van der Merwe, but as on the first day when 13 wickets fell, several batsmen had cause to reproach themselves.

Batting for a second time, Somerset lost openers Murali Vijay and Steve Davies to leave them on four for two. At that point, eight wickets had fallen in the first 74 minutes of the day.

However, Hildreth counter-attacked in typical style, striking successive fours through the leg side off Patterson, and by lunch he and Abell had taken the total to 49 for two.

Yorkshire’s attack lost its teeth and the afternoon session saw Hildreth and Abell extend their third-wicket stand to 117.

Hildreth had faced 105 balls and hit five fours and a six when he was caught at short-leg off Maharaj by Brook, who suffered several painful blows fielding close in. By then Somerset led by 217.

Abell went to his second half-century of the match off 101 balls, with six fours and a six, whilst Tom Banton added a breezy 43 off just 48 deliveries before falling to the final ball before tea.

When Abell followed straight after the interval the lead was 287. George Bartlett (39 not out) and Lewis Gregory (38 not out) ensured it was built upon substantially with a positive partnership that saw both clear the ropes, Gregory doing so three times.

They had added 78 in 98 balls when, with the floodlights on, umpires Martin Saggers and Michael Gough decided the natural light was not good enough and took the players off at 4.45pm, with a further 13 overs possible in the day.

Play was abandoned for the day without another ball bowled at just before 5.20pm.

At the end of a dramatic day Tom Abell said: “My role in both innings was to bat for as long as I could and let the other lads play around me. I think the game was in the balance overnight, but now we have taken control.

“It’s basically a good pitch, but a bit slow which makes it difficult to score. There is spin there, but when you get a partnership going things feel easier.

“Now we are on the front foot in the game and can put our foot down. As a batting group, we bat deep and we will be hoping to add more runs tomorrow so we can really apply pressure in the final innings.

“James Hildreth was fantastic today, coming in at four for two. He was positive from the start and helped us build on the excellent efforts of our bowlers at the start of the day.”

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