Batting at No 11 comes with various occupational hazards, one of which is the unfortunately high probability of being the last man out with a bonus point going begging. Saj Mahmood has not been a stranger to that experience, which will have made the back-slaps and high fives of yesterday's return to the dressing room all the more gratifying.
Again he was last man out, but this time after hitting a 41-ball 52 of invigorating quality that formed a substantial part of a Lancashire recovery from probable defeat in the morning to potential victory by tea.
His nine fours and a six provided the thrust in a 77-run stand with Glen Chapple (53 no) for the last wicket after one of 84 between Steven Croft (56) and Luke Sutton for the seventh, carrying Lancashire, who trailed by one run on first innings, from a deeply imperilled 113 for 6 to 319 all out.
Mahmood found his range with a six and two fours off the leg-spin of Imran Tahir, then produced an extraordinary run of seven boundaries in the space of 10 balls against Chris Woakes and Neil Carter, not all with authentic strokes but sometimes with textbook execution, the last punched off the front foot through the leg side with almost disdainful authority.
It was sobering stuff for Woakes and Carter who bowled so well in the morning, getting movement in the air and off the pitch. They put together 10 maidens in 12 overs as Lancashire struggled both to score and survive.
Carter struck first, trapping Stephen Moore lbw, then claimed the prized wicket of Ashwell Prince, who had made 82 in the first innings but perished without scoring, squirting a catch to Ian Bell at third slip. Mark Chilton feathered a catch behind off Woakes, before Carter ended nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson's 58-ball stay.
At 35, Carter is as game as ever but inevitably he began to tire. Croft and Sutton waited patiently for opportunities, so that by the time Croft edged Carter to Jonathan Trott in the slips Lancashire's lead was 196.
Chapple, sensing a winning position was now attainable, became more aggressive. Neither Sutton nor Simon Kerrigan, the young left-arm spinner, could stay with him long but Mahmood picked up the baton splendidly.
Warwickshire, beaten by Yorkshire last week, will be hard pressed to survive here. Chapple left the field soon after dismissing Varun Chopra in his third over but Mahmood's dismissal of Bell with a lovely full delivery preceded an inswinger from Tom Smith to trap Trott.Reuse content