Spinners take Somerset to the brink of victory
Jack Leach and Dom Bess bowled Somerset to the brink of a crucial victory on the third day of this Specsavers County Championship match with Lancashire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Left-armer Leach followed up his five first innings wickets with four for 79 from 47 overs as the visitors, who began the day on 28 without loss following on, progressed to 247 for eight by stumps, a lead of just 45.
Bess offered good support on a pitch offering only slow turn and had figures of three for 85 from 38 overs at the close. Craig Overton was the other wicket-taker.
There were half-centuries from Haseeb Hameed and Liam Livingstone in a more convincing Lancashire batting effort but from 144 for one, their score was another disappointment.
The visitors extended their opening partnership to 82 before a short rain-break disrupted Alex Davies’ concentration. The third ball after the resumption saw him offer a return catch to Leach, aiming through the leg side, having made 49.
It was 89 for one when another shower forced an early lunch. On a pitch offering little assistance to seam or spin, Somerset’s bowlers had their work cut out.
Hameed reached a studious 151-ball half-century, with six fours, but on 62 he drove Leach to cover where Tom Abell took a straightforward catch.
Steven Croft fell cheaply to Bess, lbw trying to sweep a full-toss, and the young off-spinner went on to remove Shiv Chanderpaul for nine, bowling the veteran West Indies star through the gate.
At tea Lancashire were 175 for four and required a further 27 to make Somerset bat again. The final session saw the hosts take the second new ball and Overton broke through with it as Dean Vilas, on 14, feathered a catch behind.
Livingtone went to an excellent fifty, made off 153 balls with three fours and a six, before falling on 57.
Ryan McLaren battled hard for his 15 runs, but was then snapped up off bat and pad by Marcus Trescothick at short-leg to give Leach his fourth wicket.
Bess then had Stephen Parry caught at silly mid-off stretching forward for 12 before Ryan Jarvis and Tom Bailey ensured the game went into a fourth day.
After the close of play Dom Bess said: “It’s been a long day without a doubt and Jack and I bowled a lot of overs. We had to stick in and bide our time but in the end we came good.
“Jack and I bowl well together and we communicate a lot. Having him at the other end is always good for me.
“Usually I’m not a fan of going in to the wind but when we swapped around the wind allowed me to drift the ball the other way and for Leachy vice-versa.”
“I felt like at times I didn’t get into a rhythm but when I did, coming round the wicket, I felt quite dangerous and you could see the wicket starting to do things. We really had to dig in and wait for it to come good.
“I was very glad to get Chanderpaul out because he is a major force. We did have the new ball and Craig was thinking of coming on but he is a lefty and I wanted just one more over. I felt something would happen and it did!
“In the field everyone gives their all and once you get that positive energy you feel the pressure as a batter, like it’s 11 against two. That’s one thing we have really tried to strive for.”
Looking ahead to the morning Dom said: “We’ve put ourselves into this situation so we have definitely got to get ourselves over the line. Nobody else is going to do it for us.
“I’m pretty tired but it’s exciting and playing hard days like these in the dirt is why you play cricket, for potentially a massive win.”
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