Saqib Mahmood stars for Lancashire on opening day against Gloucestershire
Saqib Mahmood finished with 4-48 as Lancashire bowled out Gloucestershire for 205 on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Cheltenham College.
The 22-year-old England Lions seamer claimed the first three wickets of the innings to stem a promising start by the hosts. There were two wickets each for James Anderson and Liam Livingstone, while Miles Hammond top-scored with 82.
By the time bad light brought a close three overs early, Lancashire had replied with 47-2, losing Haseeb Hameed to a run out and Jake Lehmann, bowled by David Payne during an eight-over opening spell by the left-armer which cost only four runs.
With conditions overcast at the start of the day, Lancashire exercised their right to bowl first on a dry-looking pitch.
Gloucestershire began solidly, with an opening stand of 55 in 25 overs between Cheltenham-born Hammond and skipper Chris Dent, who had made 23 when edging Mahmood through to wicketkeeper Dane Vilas.
During his innings, Dent went past 8,000 first-class runs for Gloucestershire.
Mahmood was running the ball across the left-handers from the Chapel End and had James Bracey caught behind for four, having played and missed several times.
It was 68-2from 31 overs at lunch and Mahmood continued where he had left off after the interval, bowling Gareth Roderick for ten to make it 77-3.
That became 85-4when Benny Howell fell to a poor shot, caught at cover off Tom Bailey.
But Hammond went on to an excellent half-century off 137 balls, with 10 fours, and found a reliable partner in Jack Taylor, making his first Championship appearance of the season.
Together they added 83 for the fifth wicket before Taylor, on 42, edged a catch to slip off leg-spinner Livingstone, who then clean bowled Ryan Higgins with his next ball.
The double blow saw Gloucestershire go in for tea on 182-6, with Hammond unbeaten on 80.
His major contribution, which spanned 204 balls, ended when Anderson hurried a ball between bat and pad to disturb the stumps.
Graeme van Buuren looked in good touch, making 23, but he was bowled off an inside edge by Mahmood with the total on 205, and without any addition Payne was run out by Anderson’s direct hit attempting a quick single. Josh Shaw was bowled for a duck by Anderson to end the innings.
Having taken 16 wickets in the last two matches, Blackpool’s Richard Gleeson bowled 12 overs for 55 without reward.
When Lancashire replied, Keaton Jennings was dropped on five by Dent at second slip off the impressive Payne with the total on 12.
Hameed was run out by Matt Taylor’s throw to the keeper after Jennings delayed a call for a single to mid-off and Payne earned reward for his accuracy when bowling Lehmann on the back foot for a duck.
Mahmood said: "We have five really good seamers, which enables us to rotate and guard against tiredness. That makes it important to take opportunities and I was relieved to get my first wicket today.
"The other guys had bowled well and there were a lot of half-chances. There wasn't a lot of movement in the air or off the seam so I just concentrated to putting the ball in the right area and running it across the left-handers.
"The pitch is good and tomorrow could be a good day to bat on it, so hopefully we can play well and get a lead. The quality of our bowling this season has been immense and when I get the chance I just try to match the other guys."