Somerset race back into contention on day three
An exciting finale is in store at Edgbaston as Warwickshire and Somerset will both fancy their chances on day four of their Specsavers County Championship clash.
Somerset closed day three on eight without loss after bad light stopped play, needing a further 250 runs to secure what might have looked an unlikely victory earlier in the day.
Resuming on 167/5 in reply to the Bears 419, the visitors reached 303, before showing their Championship winning credentials.
Tom Abell finished with career-best figures of 13.4-4-39-4 to help bowl out the hosts for just 146 in 50.4 overs.
With league leaders Essex victorious at Canterbury against Kent, second-placed Somerset will even more desperate to secure a win to keep them in the hunt with three games to go.
Overnight batsman Steve Davies (89*) and Dom Bess (1*) showed plenty of patience, amassing just 20 runs in the first ten overs. Davies, a Somerset linchpin having been on the field for the entirety of the contest, reached his maiden first-class century off 176 balls (15 fours) before the hosts struck 27 balls later after a spell of extended pressure.
Five runs in four overs had followed and, after striking Jeetan Patel down the ground for six, Patel got his man next ball as the 33-year-old edged to Will Rhodes for 109.
Next man in Roelof van der Merwe would only last eight balls, edging to Tim Ambrose off Rhodes for one, giving the Bears hope that they could force Somerset to follow-on. But excellent partnerships of 61 and 55 between Bess and Craig and Jamie Overton respectively passed the 269-follow-on total and settled the ship.
Bess would eventually carry his bat with a superb 52 from 139 balls (six fours) as the brothers were dismissed by Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Henry Brookes for 36 and 22 respectively. But the Bears in a prime position wasted their advantage with an array of loose shots.
Rob Yates top-scored with 51 from 80 balls (eight fours), adding to his impressive first innings score of 141, but only Will Rhodes (30) and Tim Ambrose (19) joined him in double figures.
Dominic Sibley was trapped LBW by Jack Brooks for nine moving across his stumps, leaving the Bears on 27/1 and Abell then shifted the momentum in the penultimate over before tea.
The 25-year-old removed Will Rhodes, caught by James Hildreth at first slip, and Sam Hain (LBW) with consecutive balls to reduce the Bears to 48/3, before Adam Hose left the hat-trick ball. The Bears returned after tea on 52/3, a lead of 163, but the 20-minute interval didn’t stop the Somerset pressure.
Hose was caught behind for seven by Davies off Brooks before Jamie Overton put the Edgbaston crowd on the edge of their seats with a trio of quick wickets from the Pavilion End. Yates was first, trapped LBW, with Michael Burgess finding van der Merwe at gully for nought after just two balls.
Henry Brookes made an immediate impact as he found the third boundary first ball, but 15 balls later he was back in the dressing room, edging to Davies without adding to his score. Wicket-keeper Ambrose had battled throughout Overton’s spell, but he was also trapped LBW after 50 balls as was Jeetan Patel in the following over from Abell for nine.
Hannon-Dalby, alongside George Garrett (6*), had frustrated Somerset for 34 balls before departing, but the Taunton side, who have Abell (8) and Davies (0) at the crease will be eyeing up their eighth win on the final day tomorrow.
Afterwards, Somerset centurion Steve Davies said: “I was given the opportunity to open the batting and Jason rang me a few days prior to the match. Fortunately, I think it’s a pretty good wicket and I managed to get a few which is great.
“I’m feeling alright at the minute, that’s why we do all the hard yards in the winter, so hopefully I finish strong. The ball did start to do a bit, we got it to swing and there was seam movement there.
“The boys bowled beautifully and I thought Tom Abell got his rewards. It’s going to be a tough chase, but it is one that’s manageable. The chances are good, we’re feeling pretty positive and it was nice not to lose one tonight.”
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