Lancashire battle back on the third day
Lancashire are pursuing an imposing 349 to beat county champions Yorkshire in the ongoing Roses clash at Headingley, and they reached close on day three at 41-1 in the 24th over.
The current Division One leaders face an uphill battle to prevent Yorkshire moving level with them on 88 points after six Championship matches, but they are supremely confident of success.
They started their chase eight overs before tea, but lost Tom Smith afterwards.
Bad light stopped play shortly after 5pm with the best part of 17 overs remaining in the day.
Should Lancashire achieve this total, it would be their tenth highest in the fourth innings of a first-class fixture and their seventh highest successful run chase.
“We had to fight really hard, and we have showed good fighting characteristics throughout the game in tough conditions,” said Neil Wagner, who took four second-innings wickets to take his tally to eight in the match.
“We are still in with a good chance, although we’ve got to do the hard work again tomorrow.
“If we can get a couple of partnerships and put the pressure back on them, who knows? We can get ourselves in really close. We are fairly confident we can chase that score down.
“There is still a bit in the wicket. But I think Yorkshire’s guys showed that if you bat well and create partnerships, it gets easier.
“In any format of cricket, you’ve got to look to be positive and win a match. It’s going to take a lot of hard work from each individual, but we’ve got the team and the players who can do that.
“Every game, we’ve done something that’s been pretty special. We’ve been doing that over a consistent period of time now, and there’s a lot of confidence in the group. That’s why we are top of the table.”
The Red Rose made a stunning start to the day with the ball as Yorkshire, in their second innings, slipped from 77-3 overnight to 89-6, which meant a lead of 201.
At that stage, Lancashire would have been confident of restricting the Tykes to a lead of less than 300.
Unfortunately, as happened in the first innings from 74-5, Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid sparked a lower order recovery.
Yorkshire’s last four wickets added 147 either side of lunch as they were eventually bowled out for 236, which included Wagner’s impressive haul of 4-71 from 24 overs.
The New Zealand left-arm seamer moved joint top of the Division One wicket-takers’ list alongside team-mate Kyle Jarvis on 28.
“I’ll be happy with that - if we win,” said Wagner of his personal haul. “That’s the most important thing.”
Bresnan and Rashid shared 41 for the seventh wicket just before lunch, but Rashid and Liam Plunkett, who top-scored with 57, did the most damage.
They came together just before the break with Yorkshire 130-7 in the 55th over and went on to add 74 inside 23 overs.
Plunkett reached 50 off 80 balls and later hit Simon Kerrigan for a straight six.
Rashid and Plunkett fell to Kerrigan, caught behind and at deep cover respectively, before Procter wrapped up the innings when he bowled Jack Brooks.
This was yet another enthralling day of Championship cricket, and it started with a boundary and a wicket in the first two balls.
Wagner was clipped for four by Adam Lyth before gaining revenge by bowling the left-hander around his legs second ball.
Night-watchman Steve Patterson was then caught behind off Smith before Andrew Gale fended Wagner to short-leg.
Procter then had Bresnan caught at first slip by Liam Livingstone shortly before lunch, but that only united Plunkett and Rashid.
Lancashire’s openers Smith and Hameed had calmly advanced the Red Rose to 28-0 in the 13th before Smith fell, caught at short cover off Patterson.