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Jennings and Vilas combine to lead a strong Lancashire reply against Somerset

Jennings and Vilas combine to lead a strong Lancashire reply against Somerset

Jennings and Vilas combine to lead a strong Lancashire reply against Somerset

A superb 169-run unbroken partnership between Keaton Jennings and Dane Vilas led a strong Lancashire reply on the second day of this Specsavers County Championship match, with the Red Rose reaching 217-2 at the close in reply to Somerset’s 429 all out.

Opener Jennings scored his first half century for Lancashire and Vilas his second first-class fifty of the season on another scorching hot day at Emirates Old Trafford.

And the opening batsman was pleased to have put in a good contribution.

“I’m the kind of guy who always wants to contribute whether it’s scoring runs, taking catches, or bowling,” he said. “It adds to a good team ethos and a good team vibe. So it’s been frustrating to say the least-we’ve played on some bowler friendly surfaces at times-but that’s the joys of playing in early April. You need to be mentally tough to pull through those periods.

Jennings and Vilas both played with increasing assurance through the afternoon and evening as Somerset’s bowlers found the going just as tough as their Lancashire counterparts had done twenty-four hours earlier on a good batting track.

Alex Davies looked in great touch and had got the Red Rose reply off to a rapid start with five boundaries inside the first seven overs, the last one a fine straight drive off Tim Groenewald. But having made 23 of the first 35 runs scored Davies nicked the same bowler behind to wicketkeeper Steve Davies.

Liam Livingstone got a leading edge to the spin of Jack Leach with Lewis Gregory snaring the catch at slip to depart for 6 with the score 48-2 and Somerset then probably sensed an opportunity. But Jennings and Vilas combined to turn the day Lancashire’s way with a great third-wicket alliance worth 169 runs from one delivery short of 51 overs.

“The new ball is crucial,” said Jennings. “There’s a bit more bounce and zip in the surface and as a batter you feel that there are balls on this surface than can get you out. You just have to hang in. We kept saying to each other: ‘hang in there. Try and drag it in as deep as you can’. As you take guys into later spells you do get some bad balls, and Somerset kept pushing hard to knock us over.”

In fact Vilas thumped Leach for consecutive sixes very early in his innings but was more watchful thereafter as the Somerset attack bowled a tight line and length. Instead both Lancashire batsmen settled in to steadily build their partnership, reaching tea on 103-2, before playing with increasing freedom during the final session to take the attack back to the bowlers.

Jennings had reached 91 not out by the close and Vilas is on 83 with Lancashire going into the third day in good shape.

It was a partnership that Jennings described as ‘good fun’.

MATCH CENTRE

“We complement each other in the way we play,” he explained. “I really enjoy batting together with him. We went to the same school as me so I suppose the understanding is there from how we want to go about playing. It was good fun.

 “Also he struck the ball beautifully and at times you look at him and think is he playing on a different surface to me? He struck the ball so cleanly.”

“To put together a partnership where we potentially could be in the driving seat in a session or two’s time is really important.

“Hopefully we can push on and get us into a position where we have a strong hold on the game.

“We’ve got to make sure we bat properly for a period of time tomorrow. Look after the second new ball and you never know what might happen. It feels like the type of surface that could accelerate the game quickly. It may not be in the first two sessions, but on day four it could.”

Somerset resumed their first innings at the start of the day on 321-5 with Tom Abell soon adding the two runs he needed to reach his half century. The visitors’ skipper looked in great touch as early runs arrived with just the loss of Gregory to a good catch low down to his left at slip by Livingstone off Tom Bailey for 10 slowing their early momentum.

Abell and Craig Overton added 61 runs in 13 overs to take Somerset into a strong position on 415-6 before, somewhat unexpectedly, three wickets fell for 0 runs in 10 balls.

It was Matt Parkinson who made the breakthrough with Overton driving the spinner into the waiting hands of James Anderson at mid-wicket after scoring 28. Abell, who had played a fine innings thus far, became stuck on 99 for ten deliveries and was then lbw to Joe Mennie from the eleventh. Leach lasted three balls, gloving a sweep off Parkinson to be nicely caught by Vilas diving forward from behind the stumps to leave Somerset on 417-9.

There was time for Groenewald to thump a six before Parkinson ended the innings on 429 by trapping Paul van Meereken lbw for 6.

It was a great effort by the Lancashire attack, something Jennings was quick to acknowledge.

“At the back end of yesterday it looked like we could have been in field for a long time,” he said.

“So credit to our bowlers on a non-responsive surface to keep charging in (this morning). They’ve had 290-odd overs in the field on the bounce, so to keep pumping their knees and putting in the effort is outstanding.”

Ken Grime
Photo: Simon Pendrigh

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