Lancashire dismiss Somerset for 77 to earn incredible Taunton tie

Keshav Maharaj returned 7-37 as Lancashire claimed a dramatic and highly unlikely tie from the Specsavers County Championship match against Somerset at Taunton which finished inside two days.
Keshav MaharajKeshav Maharaj
Keshav Maharaj

Set only 78 to win after Jack Leach completed career-best match figures of 12-102 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 Red Rose hero, ending with 11-102 in the match. But Graham Onions contributed three important wickets as no home batsman could reach 20 under pressure.

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Both teams took 11 points from the first Championship tie since 2003, an outcome proved which could be a mortal blow to Somerset’s hopes of a first ever Championship title but a massive boost to Lancashire’s survival quest.

The hosts will also be awaiting the outcome of the pitch report from ECB cricket liaison officer Dean Cosker after 25 wickets fell to spin.

Lancashire began day two on 7-2, still 86 behind. It was seamer Craig Overton who struck the first two blows, pinning Karl Brown lbw, while nightwatchman Tom Bailey, newly awarded his county cap, chipped a catch to Azhar Ali at mid-on.

From 24-4, Steven Croft and Liam Livingstone put together a stand of 57 in positive fashion.

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But Jack Leach then had Livingstone, who blasted six fours and two 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 119-7, just 26 ahead.

The afternoon session saw Croft reach an excellent half-century off 108 balls, with seven 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 three fours and a six when last man out, caught on the mid-wicket boundary.

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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 20-4 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 37-6, 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 out of Livingstone’s reach to an audible gasp from the 2,000 crowd.

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Amazingly, with the scores level, Dom Bess was stumped on 19 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.

Lancashire director of cricket Paul Allott said: “We would have taken a tie at 10.30 this morning. It was a hugely dramatic game, although I am not sure how good it was. What it has done is caught people’s attention and put County Championship cricket in the spotlight.

“The pitch, in my view, was certainly below average and could have been rated poor on the ECB scale. It was disappointing to be confronted by those conditions but we produced a stunning performance in the field.”

Next up is another key relegation match against Yorkshire at Headingley, starting on Monday.