Motivated Maharoof has Somerset on their knees

Somerset 268 & 163 Lancashire 451 (Lancashire win by an innings and 20 runs)
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The Independent Online

There is a view that Somerset's humiliatingly one-sided loss to Warwickshire in their opening match might actually have been good for them, a reminder that even though supposedly expert judges think you are favourites to win the Championship, you still have to be focused to do it.

Whether the theory can be credible after two heavy losses is another matter. One defeat by an innings was followed by another here yesterday as Lancashire wrapped up a handsome victory with three and a half sessions to spare, bowling Marcus Trescothick's side out for 163.

In contrast to their opponents, Lancashire have won both their opening matches by an innings, mocking suggestions that they might be candidates for relegation and reinforcing their liking for the Liverpool ground. They have discovered a new star, too, in the Sri Lankan Farveez Maharoof, who scored a debut century and supplemented it with a couple of wickets.

It was the 26-year-old all-rounder's 102 that was the fulcrum of Lancashire's second consecutive first innings total in excess of 450. Batting at eight, Maharoof shared a key partnership with Tom Smith on Thursday before taking the initiative himself yesterday, spurred on by a desire to prove that while his compatriot Ajantha Mendis may have earned the right to be known as a mystery spinner, he is no mystery to him.

Maharoof's 14 boundaries – 13 fours and a six – included eight off Mendis, including the maximum, hit hard and straight in the direction of the tennis courts at the River End.

"We are great friends on the field but we are playing for different counties and I wanted to get the better of him for the sake of the team," Maharoof said. "I know his game pretty well and I was able to pass on tips to my team-mates," Maharoof said. "It seemed to work because he did not take a wicket."

Mendis's figures of 0 for 102 follow 4 for 183 in the defeat to Warwickshire at Taunton, the most expensive single-innings analysis of his career. Maharoof said that he found English conditions tough but clearly not nearly so tough as Mendis.

Three and a half years after his last Test appearance, Maharoof is eager to remind the Sri Lankan selectors of his capabilities. "I make no secret of that, I want to prove something to myself and to others," he said. "That is the reason I'm here, to make my case for getting back into the Test squad."

Somerset's batting looked brittle from the moment Maharoof made the first breakthrough as they confronted a 183-run fist innings deficit and their hapless state in a collapse from 30 for 0 to 81 for 6 was encapsulated in the dismissal of James Hildreth, run out attempting an all-run four. Gemaal Hussain's career-best 42 was lost in the mayhem.

"I don't know what's wrong apart from the fact that we are not playing well enough," Trescothick said.

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