Lancashire enjoy opening day against Somerset
Alviro Petersen’s 83 and Steven Croft’s 71 not out were the features of Lancashire’s healthy opening day with the bat against Somerset at Taunton today.
The Red Rose, looking to build on their opening round Specsavers County Championship win over Nottinghamshire just under a fortnight ago, opted to toss, won it and elected to bat before reaching 295-4 from 97 overs at close.
Petersen hit eight fours and two sixes in 140 balls at the crease and Croft six fours and two sixes in his 139-ball knock.
“At just under 300-4, it is a good day for us,” said the South African, who shared a century stand for the fourth wicket with Croft against his former county.
“But it is important that tomorrow we rock up here and start well. The first session will be crucial.
“It was important that we got a big partnership somewhere, and myself and Crofty managed to do that. He’s still in, and hopefully he can bat through until lunch tomorrow.
“It’s a good Taunton wicket. It’s dry, and hopefully it will spin later on. One or two have already spun. There’s a little bit in it for the seamers and the spinners as well.
“Like I said, if you have a game plan, you can score runs as well. It’s a good cricket wicket.
“We fancy our chances now. We have some guys who have played a lot of Test Matches, and we have some quality bowlers.
“If we get a good total, we can put them under pressure. With that sort of pressure, I believe we will account for two or three early wickets.”
Petersen, who contributed 48 and 31 not out to the win against Notts, has started the summer strongly after an excellent domestic campaign back home with the Lions, most notably scoring five one-day hundreds between October and February.
“I’m looking forward to this summer,” he added.
“It’s going to be a tough season, but it will be a great challenge because, personally, there will be so much responsibility on me. I like responsibility, and I’m sure it will go well. But the most important thing is getting the team in a good position.”
Against a largely accurate attack, Lancashire made an encouraging start through openers Karl Brown and Haseeb Hameed, who shared 56 inside 24 overs.
Brown’s 47 was the other innings of substance for the county on a flat Taunton track, although Hameed looked confident for 29 and Luke Procter added 26 from number three.
Alex Davies will resume tomorrow on 32 not out having started nicely following Petersen’s exit.
Petersen and captain Croft shared a crucial 125 inside 33 overs for the fourth wicket either side of tea.
When they came together, Lancashire were 125-3 in the 51st over, with the hosts sensing a route back into proceedings.
Hameed had driven Leach to cover, Brown trapped lbw by the same man and Procter trapped lbw by Tim Groenewald.
But they averted any danger with some controlled batting and classy strokeplay before pressing the accelerator before the second new ball was taken at 80 overs.
Petersen lofted the impressive left-arm spin of Jack Leach, who finished with 2-67 from 25, over long-off for six and drove Tim Groenewald beautifully through the overs.
Shortly before that said boundary, Croft shimmied down the track and sweetly drove Leach for four.
The pair brought up their 50 partnership shortly after tea, while Petersen’s half-century came off 95 balls with five fours and the six.
Lancashire’s 200 came up in the 74th over when Croft slog-swept Leach for six in front of square before lofting him long-on a couple of overs later to move to 44.
By this stage, Somerset’s bowling was starting to waver.
Leach had been miserly either side of lunch, but was now leaking a few runs, while Jamie Overton’s short-ball tactics against Petersen and Croft were not working.
Petersen’s second six, uppercut over backward point against Overton, took him to 75 and brought up the century stand inside 27 overs at 230-3 in the 77th.
Croft reached his first fifty of the campaign off 89 balls with three fours and his two sixes just before the new ball was taken.
The new ball did the trick for Somerset as Craig Overton trapped Petersen lbw in the 83rd over, leaving the score at 250-4.
Lancashire claimed two bonus points to Somerset’s one.