Murali Kartik, the left-arm Indian spinner signed on a short-term deal, had a dream debut on a mixed day for the red rose county. Brought in until the end of the season to cover for the injured Gary Keedy, Kartik took 5 for 93 as Lancashire bowled out Essex for 267.
Replying, Lancashire stuttered to 139 for 4 by the close with Iain Sutcliffe out for exactly 50 and two wickets apiece having been claimed by Danish Kaneria and Andre Adams.
Kent's hopes of the victory which would put them in the thick of the First Division title race were all but snuffed out by Middlesex at Lord's yesterday.
Just as at the Oval, where the deciding Ashes Test was disrupted, so, too, it was a frustrating day north of the Thames with only 65 overs bowled. Replying to Kent's 384 all out, Middlesex began the day 342 on for 2 and finished it on 550 for 9.
Ben Hutton added just two runs in the morning to be out for 152, yet his good work was followed up by Jamie Dalrymple and Ed Joyce, who made 76 and 68 respectively as Middlesex collected maximum batting points. With poor weather forecast in London today, the chances of a Kent victory were left looking slim. They trail by 166, Middlesex are not yet all out, and they look far likelier winners if the rain holds off.
Back in the Second Division, an exciting finish is in store at Headingley where unbeaten Yorkshire fought to keep that record intact and at the same time press their case for promotion.
Worcestershire stumbled from 126 for 4 at the start of play to 211 all out, despite Vikram Solanki's unbeaten 74, meaning Yorkshire require 203 for victory. They lost Matthew Wood and Joe Sayers early, but another batting masterclass from Anthony McGrath, following on from his unbeaten 173 in the first innings, set Yorkshire back on course.
McGrath breezed to 42 not out from 39 balls before Yorkshire closed on 89 for 2, needing 114 more to win.