Resilient Lancs bounce back to keep dream alive

Somerset 380 Lancashire 247-3

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The Independent Online

Their captain was limited to the role of limping bystander. But while Glen Chapple hobbled through another day and may struggle to play much more than a minor part in the rest of this match, his side had a spring in their step again last night.

Lancashire knew they were close to the point of no return when they returned to the County Ground. Somerset, thanks mainly to James Hildreth's century, had enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges – and more of the same yesterday would have all but dashed those Red Rose dreams of a first outright Championship title for 77 years.

Chapple's team have been nothing if not resilient this season, though, and this was another excellent example of feistiness under pressure.

From 314 for five, Somerset could have made 500. Instead, even without Chapple's enthusiasm, Lancashire took five wickets for 66 runs to leave themselves facing a sizeable but not demoralising total.

There was nothing much in the pitch to encourage any bowler for most of yesterday. Even so, Kyle Hogg produced a snorting delivery to startle Craig Meschede and earn his side a second bowling point. Then Tom Smith – who dropped Hildreth, on 21, on Monday – finally ended the century-maker's innings by finding an edge which Paul Horton snaffled at slip.

If Lancashire are to win this match, their twin spinners Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan will need to be at their best when Somerset bat again. First time around they combined well enough to lop off the home tail with little ado and make sure that the innings ended soon after lunch.

So far so good, then. But the next challenge for Lancashire was to score big runs – and quickly – to leave plenty of time for Keedy and Kerrigan to make life difficult for the Somerset batsmen on a surface which was starting to look less plain yesterday evening once Murali Kartik began probing.

Openers Horton and Stephen Moore had a bit of previous in the big partnership stakes, having put together a stand of 168 against Hampshire at Liverpool last week. Here, they did almost as well, giving their side a splendid base with another three-figure alliance before Horton was caught behind while attempting to cut Kartik.

Moore and Karl Brown continued the good work by adding 102 and, at that stage, Lancashire could not have been sitting much prettier. Regrettably for the visitors, Moore pulled a long hop to deep mid-wicket and Brown gave Kartik a third success by snicking low to Peter Trego at slip – so low, in fact, the batsman was initially reluctant to leave.

"We all felt it had not carried," said Moore. "But when the fielder says it has and the umpires give you out that is what counts."