Lancashire battle their way back into the game against Somerset
Day Two: Lancashire CCC v Somerset CCC
Lancashire fought back well on the second day of this Specsavers County Championship match thanks to half centuries from Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone to reach the close on 152-2, 17 runs behind Somerset.
Following the clatter of wickets yesterday, we had a complete contrast in weather, conditions and performance at Emirates Old Trafford today with just four wickets falling during the six hours of play.
With eighteen wickets falling yesterday in cloudy conditions on a wicket that dried out slowly and gave assistance to both pace bowling attacks throughout, the sunny conditions and a more placid surface made batting a much easier prospect today.
Dean Elgar and Jack Leach gratefully took advantage to put the visitors firmly on top, the pair adding 125 runs to their overnight 153-8.
After successfully resisting the early exchanges against James Anderson and Ryan McLaren, the Somerset duo extended their alliance to 96 runs over the course of the morning. Leach batted with great assurance to reach his maiden first-class half-century from 131 balls when cutting Jordan Clark for his eighth boundary fifteen minutes before the scheduled lunch break. Attempting to repeat the shot off the next delivery, Leach instead nicked a bottom edge to wicketkeeper Alex Davies to depart for 52.
The fall of the ninth wicket extended the morning session by thirty minutes during which Tim Groenewald helped Elgar reach his century, the opening batsman getting to the landmark from 205 balls with eleven fours and his innings, particularly during the troublesome conditions yesterday, was outstanding.
Groenewald became the last man out shortly after the resumption, bowled by Kyle Jarvis for 20, with Elgar carrying his bat for 113 not out and Somerset, 278 all out, led by 169 runs with their last two wickets contributing 133 runs.
Lancashire’s second innings started poorly with Haseeb Hameed playing an uncharacteristically loose shot outside off, edging Lewis Gregory to Peter Trego at first slip after scoring 7 and Luke Procter soon followed, bowled by the same bowler for 4 to leave the score on 23-2.
Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone battled back either side of tea adding fifty in just one hour for the third wicket and gradually the pair took the attack back to the Somerset pacemen who were starting to find that bowling conditions were far tougher than twenty-four hours earlier.
Davies reached his half-century off 108 balls when cutting left arm spinner Jack Leach for four while Livingstone got to his second fifty of this match from 101 balls with a lovely cover drive off Groenewald, the pair mixing some determined defence with a range of attacking cricket throughout the late afternoon.
The century partnership arrived from 192 balls and the pair were still there at the close, Davies on 74 and Livingstone 56, and their alliance of 129 extremely valuable runs has brought Lancashire right back into this match, just 17 runs behind going into the third day.
Ryan McLaren reflected on an eventful couple of days in changing conditions.
“The sun seems to have baked the wicket a bit today,” he said. “It’s definitely still doing a bit, but a bit slower than yesterday.
“Any day when you see 18 wickets go suggests that there’s a lot in it for the bowlers, which there was, but now on day two our fight back with the bat has got us a bit more into the game. Hopefully we can try and bat as long as possible tomorrow, put up a competitive score and then see what happens on day four.
“You would have thought that after that first day and being 169 behind after bowling them out, we would be up against it. But things have happened much slower today and if we can get good partnerships tomorrow we can try and put up a big score and give ourselves a chance in the fourth innings.
And McLaren has been impressed by the fighting qualities shown by his new teammates.
“In the first two games we’ve controlled the game, despite being 50-5 at Surrey, we’ve put ourselves in winning positions. This one has been the other way round. We’ve had to claw ourselves back, which is something the guys have prided themselves about in the past, and it’s definitely showed again in this game.
Lancashire’s overseas player was naturally delighted to have contributed, taking four wickets on the first day.
“You have to make use of the conditions on offer as a bowler,” he said. “Judging on how the last few games have gone and also last season, it’s been hard work. It’s been tough to bowl out teams and get twenty wickets. So you want to make use of these conditions as a seamer.
“As a unit it’s nice to take wickets and personally to take four wickets, but if you look at how Jimmy (Anderson) bowled, on another day he or someone else could have ended up with the same results. For me it’s all about how we perform as a bowling attack and I thought we did that pretty well.
McLaren is determined to contribute some runs to the Red Rose as well, adding “it’s been slow progress with the bat so far, but I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer with the bat. Hopefully that comes as the season goes along.
“But I’m pretty happy with how the ball’s coming out and I’m trying to just be as consistent as possible and hopefully the results will come.”
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