Franklin leads late fightback

Lancashire 362-8 v Gloucestershire
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The Independent Online

After the frenzy of Twenty20, the more traditional face of county cricket sought to reassert itself as an explosive end to an otherwise sedate day served as a reminder that four-day cricket is not without its own brand of excitement.

Carl Hooper, standing in for the injured Warren Hegg as Lancashire captain, chose to bat first on winning the toss and would have been fully vindicated had New Zealand pace bowler James Franklin not led a late Gloucestershire fightback with five wickets on his county debut.

The 23-year-old left-armer's destructive spell of 4 for 2 in 16 deliveries with the second new ball made for a day dominated by two stand-in overseas players after Dinesh Mongia's maiden century for Lancashire.

Franklin reduced the visitors from 333-4 to 341-8. He had a startled Jamie Haynes caught at gully, bowled Glen Chapple and Dominic Cork with consecutive balls and, after Mongia had survived his hat-trick attempt, added Sajid Mahmood to his haul in similar fashion. Earlier, he had found a good outswinger to break a partnership of 140 between Mark Chilton and Mal Loye.

Departing for 69, Chilton might have felt he had underachieved on what looked a benign, if slightly slow pitch. Even more frustratingly, Loye fell 10 short of what would have been a third century of the season.

Hooper's departure against Ian Fisher's left-arm spin hinted that Lancashire, without a win in the Championship since the second week in May, might not accrue the formidable total that once seemed probable and that was before Franklin made his impact.

How grateful they were then to Mongia, who played on a short-term contract when Hooper broke a finger last month and has been summoned again from club cricket in Staffordshire to replace Stuart Law, sidelined with sciatic nerve pain.

Mongia made his name as a one-day player at international level for India, but his talents clearly go deeper. Having scored 89 against leaders Warwickshire in his one Championship match as Hooper's stand-in, he surpassed that by batting for three and a half hours and hitting 16 fours to end the day unbeaten on 111.