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Maharaj takes seven as Lancashire claim unlikely tie at Taunton

Maharaj takes seven as Lancashire claim unlikely tie at Taunton

Lancashire tie with Somerset 

Keshav Maharaj returned seven for 37 as Lancashire claimed an unlikely tie from a drama-packed Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.

Set only 78 to win after Jack Leach completed career-best match figures of 12 for 102 in Lancashire’s second innings of 170, Somerset crashed to 77 all out, their last two wickets falling with one run needed to win.

Left-arm spinner Maharaj was the hero, ending with 11 for 102 in the match. But Graham Onions contributed three important wickets as no home batsman could reach 20 under pressure.

Both teams took 11 points from the first Championship tie since 2003 and the outcome proved what could be a mortal blow to Somerset’s hopes of a first ever Championship title.

The hosts will also be awaiting the outcome of the pitch report from ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Dean Cosker with some concern after 25 wickets in the match fell to spin.

Lancashire began day two on seven for two. It was seamer Craig Overton who struck the first two blows, pinning Karl Brown lbw driving, while nightwatchman Tom Bailey, newly awarded his county cap, chipped a catch to Azhar Ali at mid-on.

From 24 for four, Croft and Livingstone put together a stand of 57 in positive fashion. But Leach then had Livingstone, who blasted 6 fours and 2 sixes, caught at short third-man, aiming another big hit.

Dane Vilas edged to slip without scoring and when Josh Bohannon went in similar fashion on the stroke of lunch Lancashire were 119 for seven.

The afternoon session saw Croft reach an excellent half-century off 108 balls, with 7 fours. But, having helped advance the total to 131, he got an inside edge to Overton and was caught behind.

Maharaj struck a couple of meaty blows before being stumped off Leach and Graham Onions had smashed 3 fours and a six when last man out, caught on the mid-wicket boundary.

Somerset had knocked off only five of the required runs when Marcus Trescothick fell leg-before to Onions, who then had Azhar Ali taken at second slip for a first ball duck.

James Hildreth was bowled attempting to cut a ball from Maharaj that hurried through and it was 20 for four when Tom Abell dragged his back foot playing defensively to be stumped off the same bowler.

Steve Davies went lbw to Onions and Ben Green edged a catch to slip off Maharaj to leave Somerset 37 for six, still needing 41. The tea break came with that figure reduced to 26 and soon afterwards Maharaj removed both Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton lbw.

With 14 required, Jamie Overton struck an aerial boundary just beyond the reach of Livingstone to an audible gasp from the 2,000 crowd. Amazingly, with the scores level, Dom Bess,on 19, was stumped trying to hit Maharaj out of the ground and Leach blotted his copybook by being caught by Bailey at wide long-on off a skyer, Overton having just played out a maiden from Onions.

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