Lancs eye final day victory push after duo centuries boost
Day Three: Lancashire CCC v Somerset CCC
Outstanding centuries by Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone brought Lancashire right back into this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford, to underpin a terrific Red Rose fightback, establish a 254 run lead with three wickets in hand and look at the chance to push on for a victory against Somerset going into the final day tomorrow.
Resuming the second innings on 152-2, Davies and Livingstone knocked off the remaining deficit of 17 runs during the first half hour of the day, Livingstone square cutting Josh Davey for four to take Lancashire ahead.
The pair’s 150 partnership for the third wicket from 53 overs followed soon afterwards, absolutely vital runs that had slowly but surely brought Lancashire right back into this game.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Red Rose duo with the occasional delivery staying low and Livingstone also received a nasty looking blow to his hand from a sharply rising delivery from Craig Overton that required treatment.
Davies moved on steadily throughout the morning to reach his second century of the season off 218 balls with 13 fours and he was soon followed to three figures by his partner when Livingstone launched a delivery from Jack Leach into the stands at mid-wicket-which also brought up the 200 partnership.
It was Livingstone’s second maximum after the first had earlier cleared the stands in the same location off the same bowler. The century was his third for Lancashire and his fifth in a remarkable last twelve months which included two for England Lions last winter, and had taken 192 balls.
It was an outstanding contribution by the pair who reached lunch with the score on 258-2 and showed the growing maturity of Lancashire’s young talent with 23 year-old Livingstone and 22 year-old Davies playing with great assurance and determination to drag this game back for their side.
Livingstone had spoken earlier about the need to “graft and put a price on every wicket” and this desire was amply demonstrated today.
In fact the first wicket of the day did not fall until 2pm when Davies was lbw to Gregory for 130, bringing to an end a partnership of 245 runs forged across 76 overs that left Lancashire 99 runs ahead and right back in the game.
Rob Jones then played a nice innings of 35 to support his captain’s effort, helping to add 86 for the fourth wicket, while Livingstone-still in some apparent discomfort from the blow to his hand earlier-continued to dominate.
Jones and Dane Vilas both departed lbw to Overton in the same over immediately before tea and Livingstone went shortly after the resumption to a standing ovation, caught by Dean Elgar off the bowling of Leach for a career-best 168 that had spanned 7 hours and 5 minutes with the Red Rose 360-6 and now ahead by 191 runs.
Jordan Clark was stumped for 5 off left arm spinner Leach, who was finding an increasing amount of spin as the day wore on, which meant four wickets had fallen for 25 runs but a steadying partnership of 44 in 18 overs between Ryan McLaren and Stephen Parry during the final hour halted any aspirations Somerset may have had of forcing a collapse.
McLaren finished the day on 35 not out and Parry 22 not out to complete a very good day for Lancashire who are 423-7 going into the final day and 254 runs ahead.
Liam Livingstone and Alex Davies enjoyed a 245 run partnership that has turned the game around for Lancashire.
“We really enjoyed it,” said Davies. “We bounce off each other and keep each other going. If we make the odd mistake, we tell each other!
Two centuries in three matches for the batsman/wicketkeeper means Davies has made a great start to the season, and he added: “It was a special moment at Essex (getting my first hundred) but it (today’s century) doesn’t mean much unless we push on and win tomorrow.
Having missed a whole chunk of last season due to injury, Davies is also relishing being back in the action.
“It was a tricky period for me,” he said, “but if anything it makes you that little bit more hungry. It makes you enjoy playing more. It’s good to be out there and I can’t really ask for much more than the start I’ve had this season.”
“I want to bat high up in the order. I don’t want to be the ‘keeper that bats at number seven. And I believe I’m good enough to bat high in the order and it works best for the team at the moment that I open the batting. When Chappy approached me, I said yes straightaway.”
Temporary skipper Liam Livingstone, while delighted to reach a career-best score today, has his focus firmly on tomorrow’s final day.
“The pitch is still a fairly decent pitch,” he said, “but it is definitely getting worse. We’ve got ourselves into a decent position considering where we were.
“We’ve played good cricket to get to where we are and all we can do is get ourselves in a good position with the bat in the morning and give ourselves the best chance to bowl them out.
“That’s the motivation we used yesterday and again this morning. If we can win this game from the position we were in it would be a very special win. That’s what we are going to look at tomorrow. “
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