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Late wickets boost Lancs chances after eventful day

Late wickets boost Lancs chances after eventful day

A dramatic day of fluctuating fortunes where 14 wickets fell ended with Worcestershire leading by 120 runs with one second-innings wicket left, to set up an intriguing third day in our Specsavers County Championship match.

The advantage appears to be with Lancashire after two wickets fell in the last six overs of the day, but given the way this game has progressed so far on a pitch offering some movement and proving difficult to score quickly on, it is tough to call the eventual outcome at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow.

Worcestershire closed on 149-9 after Richard Gleeson claimed the important wicket of Wayne Parnell in the final over of the day on his way to figures of 4-35. That leaves skipper Joe Leach, on 5 not out, to be joined by last man Charlie Morris when play resumes in the morning at 11am.

“I think it was a good day,” said Gleeson. “I think we bowled pretty well and kept it nice and tight as we planned.

“It could be a tough chase,” he admitted. “It looks like there’s a bit in the wicket and it’s difficult to score on if you bowl well on it.

“Hopefully we can get that last wicket early. We’ve got be clinical in the morning, bat properly and get over the line, that’s the plan.”

Liam Livingstone and Dane Vilas made a positive start to the day striking five boundaries in the first five overs, adding 23 runs to Lancashire’s overnight 88-5 and make quick inroads into the remaining 84-run deficit.

The pair posted their 50 partnership after just 50 minutes of play from 68 balls and Livingstone went on to reach his own fifty off 92 balls in fine style when he hit the first five deliveries of the 56th over bowled by Ed Barnard for four.  In an eventful over the bowler then put down a sharp knee-high catch off the sixth ball as Livingstone drove firmly back up the wicket.

That flurry of runs took Lancashire into the lead but the visitors struck back to bowl themselves right back in to the game as the last five Red Rose wickets fell for 15 runs.

Vilas, having hit Parnell for consecutive fours to reach 39, was deceived by a delivery that drifted back in to take out off stump and end an excellent 98-run stand that had only occupied 20 overs.

And Worcestershire made the most of that breakthrough as Parnell (5-47) and Charlie Morris (4-52) wrapped up the Lancashire innings quickly for 201, Parnell producing a beauty of a delivery to Livingstone that nipped away to hit off stump after the Red Rose batsman had top-scored with 63.

That left Worcestershire only 29 runs in arrears at lunch but they soon lost Daryl Mitchell for 6 when play resumed in the afternoon, the batsmen seemingly surprised by extra bounce from James Anderson and getting a leading edge that flew to Rob Jones at gully.

The Red Rose attack bowled a probing line and length as the visitors cautiously inched their way into the lead, taking 19 overs to reach parity at 29-1, and Tom Fell and George Rhodes had extended their partnership to 42 off almost 20 overs before Tom Bailey nipped one back to take out Rhodes’ middle stump for 26.

Gleeson, switched to the James Anderson End, built on that breakthrough with three wickets for 12 runs from 4 overs either side of tea, removing both Callum Ferguson, caught at second slip by Livingstone, and Riki Wessels lbw for ducks and then had opener Fell trapped in front for 40 by a big inswinger. That left Worcestershire struggling on 81-6.

And Gleeson revealed that he was all for the switch so he could stop bowling into the breeze - or so he thought!

“It felt like I was running into the breeze bowling from the Statham End," he said.

“There was a mention of a possible change, from Bunny (Onions) I think, and I was very keen for that!” he grinned.

“Then I spoke to Bails who said he felt he was also running into the breeze at the other (James Anderson) end, and when I did bowl from there I felt he could be right!

“The wind was swirling round, but from the James Anderson end it was generally coming over my right shoulder and that helped me a little bit.”

After Gleeson’s three wicket burst, Bailey pushed home Lancashire’s advantage by having Ben Cox lbw for 19 at the start of the final hour of the day with the lead standing at 99.

But this unpredictable game took a turn back towards the Pears as Barnard and Parnell battled away to patiently compile a 42-run partnership.

Two late wickets changed all that as Barnard bottom-edged a cut onto his stumps off Livingstone having made 18 with six overs left.

And Gleeson followed that success with a big wicket in the final over, his fourth of the innings, when Parnell edged behind to Vilas for 25.

“There’s two good teams going hard at it,” said Gleeson.

“We’ve both won our first two games and it has a feel of an early season winner-takes-all type game.

“Hopefully we can get across the line.”   

Ken Grime
Photos: Barry Mitchell

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