Lancashire survive scare to secure draw
Haseeb Hameed posted his second century inside a fortnight as Lancashire batted out day four for a draw against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge today after an afternoon and early evening scare.
The Red Rose county have relinquished top spot in the Specsavers County Championship table to Middlesex, who are one point clear on 118 points after nine matches.
Lancashire are now second, level on 117 with Warwickshire but having won once more.
And Lancashire slipped from 209-1 after lunch to 261-6 in the early stages of the evening, which meant a lead of only 62 with almost 35 overs remaining. At that stage, Notts had an opening.
But, thankfully, captain Steven Croft and Jordan Clark batted for 18.4 overs for the seventh wicket to all but secure the nine points for a draw.
When the players shook hands, Croft was unbeaten on 34 from 141 balls in 304-7 from 134 overs, a lead of 106 with eleven overs still to bowl.
“I thought it was a really gutsy performance over the last day and a half,” said cricket director and head coach Ashley Giles.
“It was set up by Tom (Smith) and Haseeb. To go in nought down overnight against a very good bowling bowling line-up really gave us a lot of belief today that we could save the game. That was the only result we could look for.
"A gutsy performance. There was also a lot of intensity today. And it’s important to be hard to beat and not to lose games because sides get a march on you.
“It’s put us in a position now where we’re second, one point off the top, and there’s a hell of a lot to play for.
“You battle for long periods trying to get in a position to win. If you then you can’t, you have to dig in and be hard to beat. We’ve done that here.
“It feels like we’ve won a little battle over the last 140 overs.”
Lancashire started day four on 128-0, trailing by 70, and Hameed and Tom Smith went on to share 151 inside 64 overs for the first wicket.
Hameed then shared 58 inside 22 for the second wicket with Luke Procter and went on to post 122 off 284 balls, with his innings lasting just short of six and a half hours.
The 19-year-old opener, who continues to build a reputation as a Test star in the making, reached his latest ton off 237 balls in the morning’s final over having reached his maiden century against Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford recently.
Smith was the only wicket to fall in the morning session as he edged Harry Gurney to second slip for 71, leaving the score at 151-1 in the 64th.
It was Smith’s second score in the seventies in this fixture, with him posting 70 in the first. In this innings, he was undone by extra bounce.
Hameed and Procter hit five fours in two overs off South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir and Gurney in the 67th and 68th.
Hameed hit three of them as 14 came off Gurney in the 68th to take him to 89 and the score to 168-1. Two of the boundaries were leg glances on a now docile pitch.
He raised his bat on the stroke of lunch, with him and Procter bringing up their half-century stand just moments before.
Such was the nature of pitch that Notts’ wicketkeeper Riki Wessels even stood up to miserly Stuart Broad this morning.
Notts took the second new ball immediately after lunch as they entered last chance saloon.
And it worked for them as Lancashire encountered their trickiest period of the day as they slipped from 209-1 in the 86th over to 233-5 in the 99th, leading by 35 with almost 47 overs remaining.
Broad had Procter lbw and Alviro Petersen bowled shouldering arms in the 86th over before Brett Hutton, in his first over of a new ball, had Hameed caught behind. He returned in the next to get Liam Livingstone caught at mid-on.
Lancashire reached tea at 249-5 from 108 overs with a lead of 51 and 37 overs remaining. By that stage, Croft and Karl Brown were together.
But when Brown was superbly caught at short-leg by Brendan Taylor, one-handed, off Tahir, Notts had pushed the door ajar.
Croft and Clark virtually shut it again, though, with some impressive defence in a partnership which lasted for more than an hour before the latter played on to Gurney, leaving the score at 287-7 after 129 - a lead of 89 with 16 overs left.
Lancashire reached 300-7 in the 133rd over, by which time the lead was 102 with only 12 overs remaining, not including the two for the change of innings.
Steven Mullaney opted to end his side’s victory bid after one more over.
On yet another batting masterclass from Hameed, Giles added: “His maturity for a guy of his years and the way he plays, the patience he shows - he got a good delivery in the end.
“You just feel that he doesn’t give many chances. He plays the percentages really well. For someone of his age, that’s incredible.
“He’s got a really bright future, but not too soon hopefully because we want to get some more runs out of him.”
Photo courtesy of Luke Adams