Tom Smith led the way with a patient 70 as Lancashire posted 273-9 from 96 overs on the opening day against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge today.
The Specsavers County Championship leaders are bidding for their fourth win of 2016 but first away from home, and they were a touch frustrated at not advancing more strongly from 118-1 on a tacky pitch.
Smith battled hard against Stuart Broad with the new ball and another Test Match regular, the South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who he eventually fell to shortly after tea.
Those two finished with three wickets apiece, with Broad returning 3-50 from 25 overs.
Left-handed opener Smith, who hit nine fours in 200 balls, shared partnerships of 34 for the first wicket with Haseeb Hameed, 84 inside 21 overs for the second with Luke Procter and 45 for the fifth with Karl Brown.
Procter and Brown, with 48 and 36 apiece, provided Smith with valuable support after Steven Croft had earlier elected to bat on a surface which is expected to turn later in the game.
“You’d always want a few more, but we’re happy with the score so far,” said Smith. “There’s a bit going on out there with the new ball, and it’s been swinging all day.
“We’ll come out tomorrow and try and get a few more. If we can push up towards 300, get that extra bonus point, you never know. Then, with our new ball, we’ll try and make it count.
“We were disappointed with that period of play (From 118-1 to lose eight wickets relatively cheaply). But credit to Notts, I thought they bowled a lot better than they did in the morning.
“It shows at Trent Bridge what can happen if you bowl in the right areas. We can pile on that scoreboard pressure if we can get a couple of early wickets.”
Lancashire reached lunch in a healthy state at 109-1 from 32 overs, losing only Hameed caught in the gully off Brett Hutton after inside-edging onto his pads.
Procter settled quickly and reached lunch on 45 not out from only 58 balls, hitting two fours in Tahir’s first over, which went for 13.
To be fair to Tahir, however, he was much improved after lunch and kept a lid on things for his captain Steven Mullaney, the former Red Rose all-rounder.
Lancashire lost three wickets in an afternoon session which also saw Smith reach his second fifty of the season off 113 balls with seven fours.
Smith drove nicely down the ground on a couple of occasions.
But he saw Procter, Alviro Petersen and Croft all depart as Lancashire fell from 118-1 after 36 overs to 154-4 in the 54th.
Procter was bowled playing aggressively across the line at Tahir, although Petersen and Croft can consider themselves unfortunate, particularly the former.
He was adjudged caught behind down leg off Broad by umpire Alex Wharf, although the England man did not appeal and the keeper, Riki Wessels, only went up half-heartedly.
Croft was then trapped lbw by Tahir having been hit on the boot after advancing down the track.
The Red Rose reached 192-4 after 65 overs at tea, with Notts rattling through their overs. By that stage, Smith and Brown had added 38.
Broad, warming up for England’s forthcoming Test series against Pakistan, bowled beautifully.
He took the new ball and conceded only nine runs from his first eight overs.
He started new spells immediately after lunch and tea before taking the new ball with Lancashire at 235-5 from 80.
By that time, though, Tahir had picked up his third wicket by getting Smith stumped as the score slipped to 199-5 in the 70th.
The new ball worked for Notts as Harry Gurney, having switched ends with Broad from earlier to the Pavilion End, had Brown caught behind in the 83rd over - 239-6.
Broad then took a sharp return catch to get rid of Jordan Clark in the 88th over before Neil Wagner, in the next, was bowled off his helmet by a short ball from Gurney.
The ball initially hit him on the shoulder and ricocheted up into the helmet. It is hoped he will be fit to bowl tomorrow.
And when Liam Livingstone, for 33, miscued Broad high to Samit Patel at point in the 90th, Lancashire had lost three in three overs to fall to 253-9.
Kyle Jarvis and Matt Parkinson then added an unbeaten 20 through to close.
“Tomorrow morning’s session is going to be key to the whole game I think,” added Smith. “If we can get up to 300 and then bowl well, it’s going to go a long way to deciding which way this fixture goes.
“Personally, it was nice to get a score out there. I was disappointed I didn’t go on and get a big score because I felt set out there.”
Half-centuries for opener Jake Libby and Samit Patel, added to a handful of other useful contributions, led Nottinghamshire, replying to 276, to a slender first-innings lead on day two at Trent Bridge.
The hosts closed on 303-5 from 83.4 overs, meaning they are 27 runs in front at the halfway stage of the match.
The day, which saw eight overs lost to bad light after tea, started with Lancashire adding three runs to their overnight 276-9.
But Matt Parkinson was trapped lbw by fellow leg-spinner Imran Tahir, the South African who finished with 4-81.
Notts then ensured they have the advantage in this match thanks to a solid batting effort built upon contributions from each of their top six batsmen.
Every one of them reached 30, with Libby going on to make 54 after sharing 86 inside 19 overs for the first wicket with captain Steven Mullaney (43).
He also shared 38 with Greg Smith before being caught behind off Neil Wagner shortly after lunch, leaving the score at 124-2 in the 32nd.
Earlier, Mullaney had played on to Kyle Jarvis to give Lancashire the breakthrough.
Jarvis and Jordan Clark both struck twice apiece for the visitors, who saw Patel reach close at 51 not out.
“Overall we’re a little bit frustrated,” admitted captain Steven Croft. “It was a slightly underperforming Lancs side.
“I don’t think we bowled particularly well, especially first up, and the bowlers admit that.
“I wouldn’t say it’s tough to come back from that, but we felt like we were always clawing it back. The lads did come back well later and could have had a couple more wickets. But, overall, it was disappointing.
“We would have been happy with one late on tonight and the momentum going into tomorrow. But we’ve still got the new ball in the morning. Hopefully we can nip a couple out before the bowlers come in.
“We don’t want them to go too big a lead.
“It looks quite an easy-paced wicket. If we can keep them restricted, the plan is to pile them on and then bowl them out. First, we’ve got to take it session by session.
“The pitch is a little bit slow. There aren’t many games where nobody gets caught at slip, and it’s a little bit batsman error more than anything.
“But if you bowl well, you’ll get rewarded - maybe not wickets wise, but you don’t go anywhere. If you’re off, you seem to go.”
Lancashire struck three times in the afternoon, with Jarvis getting Smith caught behind for 30 as the score slipped to 136-3 in the 35th.
Clark later had Brendan Taylor caught in the gully as he failed to evade an accurate short ball, falling for 37.
Unfortunately, by that stage, Notts had reached 210-4 in the 59th over having seen Taylor put on 74 with left-handed Michael Lumb, who posted 43.
Twice Taylor lofted Parkinson down the ground for six.
Lumb then fell seven short of his fifty shortly after tea when Clark took a one-handed return catch going to his right as Notts fell to 241-5 in the 67th.
Notts gained a first-innings lead in the 75th over, reaching 282-5 with Patel and Riki Wessels in partnership.
There was only one more over possible before bad light stopped play on the same score, meaning a loss of four overs.
When play resumed, however, Patel and Wessels took their side beyond 300, with the former reaching 50 off 77 balls. Wessels will resume tomorrow unbeaten on 25 after more bad light ended play early.
Their partnership currently stands at 62 inside 17 overs.
Lancashire currently have three bonus points in the match to Notts’ six.
Haseeb Hameed and Tom Smith scored half-centuries to expertly lead Lancashire away from immediate danger after conceding a first-innings lead of 198 against Nottinghamshire on day three at Trent Bridge.
The Red Rose opening pair, who started their side’s second innings midway through the afternoon, put on 50 before tea and added to that afterwards by posting Lancashire’s first century opening stand of the season.
They contributed to a close of play 128-0 from 49 overs as this Specsavers County Championship match heads towards a draw.
Hameed will begin day four on 58 and Smith, who scored 70 in the first innings, on 66. Lancashire will begin day four 70 behind.
Earlier, Notts, replying to 276, were bowled out for 474 as each of their top nine batsmen made it to at least 30. The hosts had started day three on 303-5.
Jake Libby, Samit Patel and Riki Wessels all reached half-centuries, with Wessels reaching his today, while Steven Mullaney, Michael Lumb, Stuart Broad and Brett Hutton all posted scores in the forties in improving batting conditions.
Neil Wagner finished with 3-107 from 33.1 overs as Kyle Jarvis, Smith and Jordan Clark all claimed two wickets apiece.
“That was a good end to the day, very much so,” said Wagner. “It was tough work today.
“We thought that if we could get a couple of wickets early in the morning session, they might not get too big a lead and we’d be in with a shot.
“But they batted pretty well and stuck at it on an unresponsive wicket, which was quite tough work.
“We came out with the bat and knew we had to build partnerships, and it was outstanding from those two.
“They batted really well and gave them no opportunities or chances.
“I think Lord’s was better for bowling on than this. At least there you’ve got the slope to work with!
“You never know, though, this might deteriorate more tomorrow, get a little bit more up and down and turn a bit more.”
Notts enjoyed success in their pursuit of a fifth batting bonus point for reaching 400 inside 110 overs, with eighth-wicket pair Broad and Hutton helping to get 20 off the last two overs to achieve it.
Lancashire could only claim two bowling points, meaning four overall.
Patel and Wessels frustrated the pre-game Division One leaders this morning as they accrued 105 for the sixth wicket - the first of two century partnerships in the match so far.
Patel was then caught behind off Smith for an innings top-score of 67 before the same bowler had Wessels, for 62, caught at slip by Liam Livingstone as the score fell to 369-7 in the 107th.
Unfortunately, Broad and Hutton put on 79 inside 15 overs for the eighth wicket to secure the fifth batting point just before lunch.
Broad was later bowled by Matt Parkinson’s first ball back into the attack after lunch before Imran Tahir failed to avoid a short ball from Wagner and looped a catch up to Livingstone scrambling back from slip.
And when the New Zealand quick rearranged Hutton’s stumps, Notts were all out inside 129 overs.
The hosts had all the momentum, but Smith and Hameed impressively wrestled some of it back.
Hameed hit three successive boundaries off Harry Gurney’s left-arm seamers, one flicked through mid-wicket and other two driven to cover fence, on the way to a tea-time score of 50-0 after 17 overs.
The teenager later reached 50 for the fifth time this season off 112 balls with seven fours in the second half of the evening session, shortly before the score went beyond 100.
Smith then moved into the forties with two fours, one either side of the wicket, off Tahir’s leg-spinners before posting his fifty off 120 balls with six fours.
Haseeb Hameed posted his second century inside a fortnight as Lancashire batted out day four for a draw against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge today after an afternoon and early evening scare.
The Red Rose county have relinquished top spot in the Specsavers County Championship table to Middlesex, who are one point clear on 118 points after nine matches.
Lancashire are now second, level on 117 with Warwickshire but having won once more.
And Lancashire slipped from 209-1 after lunch to 261-6 in the early stages of the evening, which meant a lead of only 62 with almost 35 overs remaining. At that stage, Notts had an opening.
But, thankfully, captain Steven Croft and Jordan Clark batted for 18.4 overs for the seventh wicket to all but secure the nine points for a draw.
When the players shook hands, Croft was unbeaten on 34 from 141 balls in 304-7 from 134 overs, a lead of 106 with eleven overs still to bowl.
“I thought it was a really gutsy performance over the last day and a half,” said cricket director and head coach Ashley Giles.
“It was set up by Tom (Smith) and Haseeb. To go in nought down overnight against a very good bowling bowling line-up really gave us a lot of belief today that we could save the game. That was the only result we could look for.
"A gutsy performance. There was also a lot of intensity today. And it’s important to be hard to beat and not to lose games because sides get a march on you.
“It’s put us in a position now where we’re second, one point off the top, and there’s a hell of a lot to play for.
“You battle for long periods trying to get in a position to win. If you then you can’t, you have to dig in and be hard to beat. We’ve done that here.
“It feels like we’ve won a little battle over the last 140 overs.”
Lancashire started day four on 128-0, trailing by 70, and Hameed and Tom Smith went on to share 151 inside 64 overs for the first wicket.
Hameed then shared 58 inside 22 for the second wicket with Luke Procter and went on to post 122 off 284 balls, with his innings lasting just short of six and a half hours.
The 19-year-old opener, who continues to build a reputation as a Test star in the making, reached his latest ton off 237 balls in the morning’s final over having reached his maiden century against Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford recently.
Smith was the only wicket to fall in the morning session as he edged Harry Gurney to second slip for 71, leaving the score at 151-1 in the 64th.
It was Smith’s second score in the seventies in this fixture, with him posting 70 in the first. In this innings, he was undone by extra bounce.
Hameed and Procter hit five fours in two overs off South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir and Gurney in the 67th and 68th.
Hameed hit three of them as 14 came off Gurney in the 68th to take him to 89 and the score to 168-1. Two of the boundaries were leg glances on a now docile pitch.
He raised his bat on the stroke of lunch, with him and Procter bringing up their half-century stand just moments before.
Such was the nature of pitch that Notts’ wicketkeeper Riki Wessels even stood up to miserly Stuart Broad this morning.
Notts took the second new ball immediately after lunch as they entered last chance saloon.
And it worked for them as Lancashire encountered their trickiest period of the day as they slipped from 209-1 in the 86th over to 233-5 in the 99th, leading by 35 with almost 47 overs remaining.
Broad had Procter lbw and Alviro Petersen bowled shouldering arms in the 86th over before Brett Hutton, in his first over of a new ball, had Hameed caught behind. He returned in the next to get Liam Livingstone caught at mid-on.
Lancashire reached tea at 249-5 from 108 overs with a lead of 51 and 37 overs remaining. By that stage, Croft and Karl Brown were together.
But when Brown was superbly caught at short-leg by Brendan Taylor, one-handed, off Tahir, Notts had pushed the door ajar.
Croft and Clark virtually shut it again, though, with some impressive defence in a partnership which lasted for more than an hour before the latter played on to Gurney, leaving the score at 287-7 after 129 - a lead of 89 with 16 overs left.
Lancashire reached 300-7 in the 133rd over, by which time the lead was 102 with only 12 overs remaining, not including the two for the change of innings.
Steven Mullaney opted to end his side’s victory bid after one more over.
On yet another batting masterclass from Hameed, Giles added: “His maturity for a guy of his years and the way he plays, the patience he shows - he got a good delivery in the end.
“You just feel that he doesn’t give many chances. He plays the percentages really well. For someone of his age, that’s incredible.
“He’s got a really bright future, but not too soon hopefully because we want to get some more runs out of him.”
England v South Africa 2017
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