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Last-gasp heroics clinch thrilling Lancs victory against Gloucs

Last-gasp heroics clinch thrilling Lancs victory against Gloucs

Lancashire’s excellent start to the season continued with a pulsating second victory in the LV= County Championship by an innings and 57 runs against Gloucestershire at Emirates Old Trafford.

There were just 24 balls left in the match when Gloucestershire last man Jared Warner feathered an edge off Hassan Ali to wicketkeeper Phil Salt to spark great scenes of jubilation led by Hassan’s trademark fist-pumping celebration.

It was a dramatic finale after Gloucestershire’s remaining batsman had battled valiantly throughout the day and came very close to achieving an improbable draw.

But with overs running out and two wickets needed, Dane Vilas turned to Hassan and Saqib Mahmood and it was Mahmood who ended 27 overs worth of resistance when he bowled Tom Lace for the 9th Gloucestershire wicket before Hassan applied the finish.

This final day had many twists and turns, starting with Matt Parkinson who led the way with three wickets and he was instrumental in making the breakthrough after Gloucestershire pair Miles Hammond and skipper Graeme van Buuren had put up one hour of resistance at the start of the day.

Just as we were wondering if the fourth morning was going to be as barren - as far as wickets falling - as the previous three morning sessions, Parkinson emphasized just what a dangerous bowler he can be with two wickets in two balls.

The leg spinner found some nice drift and turn to find the edge of van Buuren's bat, caught at slip by Luke Wells for 15, before completely bamboozling Ryan Higgins with his next delivery that pitched in line with leg stump but turned to hit off stump.

And Parkinson nearly had a third when Tom Lace – on a pair – drove to mid-off where a diving Dane Vilas just failed to pull off a great catch.

Hammond and Lace reached lunch on 116-5 with Hammond going to his fifty soon after play resumed (from 147 balls) before becoming Anderson’s second victim of the innings.

We had the sight of Anderson bowling to an unusual field containing a cordon of short mid-off, short extra cover, short cover, short point and one wide slip (positioned about the third slip area).

Whether the ploy worked only the batsman will know, but Hammond was then late on his shot to an Anderson seamer that nipped back onto his pads to be lbw for 50.

Parkinson backed that up with his third wicket three overs later, Zafar Gohar deceived by a floated delivery that gripped and turned into the batsman's leg stump to have the visitors 127-7 and with just under 60 overs still to be bowled the game looked destined to head Lancashire’s way.

Lace and Josh Shaw had other ideas, showing some good fight with a 79-run partnership with Lace reaching his half century off 130 balls when driving George Balderson through the covers for his sixth boundary.

But Hassan (3-49) returned to bowl a hostile over at Shaw; consecutive bouncers followed by a searing delivery that hit middle and off stumps with the batsman stuck on the back foot and out after making 29.

That breakthrough seemed to have finally swung things back Lancashire’s way but Lace found a strong ally in Warner and the pair defended stoutly for 27 overs to take the match well into the final hour although Lace had earlier been the recipient of a fortunate escape on 65 (with 18 overs left) when his attempted cut off Saqib Mahmood flew quickly to second slip where Steven Croft couldn’t cling on to the chance.

But Lace’s fine effort finally ended after 266 minutes on 71 with 10 overs left after Mahmood clipped the off stump just enough to bizarrely dislodge the leg side bail with umpire Richard Illingworth confirming the decision.

There was still further drama however as Warner and Dale batted out a further six overs before Hassan’s coup de grâce arrived to seal a very hard won victory.

Lancashire take 22 points from the game and Gloucestershire 3.

A delighted Head Coach Glen Chapple reflected on a “tough day”

“We were in a great position and played superb cricket throughout the game,” he said, “on a really good surface that was fairly flat but was like a Test pitch.

"I'm pleased that we dominated the game and played really good cricket all the way through but even with the unbelievable bowling attack we've got it was hard work and Gloucestershire played well, made it difficult and at one point a draw looked favourite.”

And Chapple is happy with the type of pitches at Emirates Old Trafford, adding:

"We'd prefer good surfaces like that because the best team has the best chance to win and at the moment we have a strong team. We didn't ever take a backward step and the effort was great - if we can find a way to keep our foot on the gas all the way through it would be great but the efforts of the team after tea were amazing. “

Josh Bohannon’s double-century was one of many highlights to take away from this game and Chapple said: “During his career to date, Josh (Bohannon) has not had a bad spell and we know now that he is a proven, quality player.

“He has been determined this winter to work on how he can make sure that he can bat long and make really big, telling scores. He richly deserves his first double hundred and everyone is delighted for him."

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