Report and reaction from Day Three
Lancashire lost three cheap wickets after being set a victory target of 347 to win their final round Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and maintain their Division One status.
A draw would also be enough for the Red Rose, 28-3 from 18 overs at close, to avoid a third relegation in five years.
Both of those results would take Hampshire’s match against Durham out of the equation.
If Hampshire, who lead by 226 with three second-innings wickets in hand, fail to beat Durham at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow, on the final day of the 2016 campaign, even a Lancashire defeat would not hurt them.
Lancashire lost Rob Jones and Luke Procter lbw and Karl Brown caught behind in the closing stages of the day.
Haseeb Hameed and night-watchman Simon Kerrigan will begin day four on 11 and nought respectively.
Warwickshire batted for the majority of the day as they, leading by 67 runs on first innings, advance from 12-0 to 279-7 declared.
Kerrigan said: “It’s not ideal losing a third wicket, but I don’t mind going out as night-watchman. It gets me into the battle, and hopefully we can dig in tomorrow and bat on.
“We fought well today. It looked after the first half hour to 45 minutes that we could be batting for a full session tonight. But we only had 18 overs at the end.
“They didn’t go ideally by any stretch of the imagination in losing three wickets. But there’s no other option but to fight.
“The sun’s baked the pitch and made it a lot slower. It didn’t turn off the normal bit of the wicket today, whereas the first day it did.
“But Keith Barker creates a decent amount of foot holes for Jeetan Patel, and you’ve got that to deal with.
“It’s not beyond us to bat it out tomorrow.
“We bat all the way down, and hopefully we can get out into the fight.
“It’s a tough pitch to go out on and try to force runs. You saw that with Warwickshire today. They’d have liked to have a session at us tonight, but because the pitch is quite slow, it’s quite tough to manoeuvre the ball and hit though the ring of the fielders.
“It has flattened out, so once that ball gets softer we’ve got to dig in.”
Batting conditions, under sunny Birmingham skies, seemed as easy today as at any other stage in the fixture.
The hosts’ second innings was built through a series of solid contributions, with only opener Alex Mellor failing to reach 20.
But only wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, with 59 not out batting at number six, reached 50 - the second batsman in the match to reach that milestone after Sam Hain in the first innings.
Lancashire struck three times in each of the first two sessions and once after tea, with off-spinner Arron Lilley claiming 3-56 from 17 overs.
Tom Bailey trapped Mellor lbw offering no shot this morning to make the breakthrough before Ian Westwood fell the same way to Jordan Clark’s fourth ball of the day as the score fell to 74-2 in the 25th over.
Lilley then bowled Jonathan Trott for 42 with 110 on the board in the latter stages of the morning.
Kyle Jarvis bowled Ian Bell for 31 after lunch - 148-4 in the 43rd - before Hain was lbw offering no shot at Lilley in the next over.
Ambrose then sparked a frustrating period for Lancashire either side of tea as the hosts built a commanding lead.
He shared 44 for the sixth wicket with Rikki Clarke (20) before the latter was lbw to Kerrigan, leaving the score at 196-6 in the 60th and the lead and 263.
Lilley picked up his third wicket when Keith Barker was lbw in the first over of the evening as the score fell to 234-7, ending a 38-run stand.
Jeetan Patel and Ambrose, who reached 50 off 103 balls, then hit straight sixes off Kerrigan and Lilley as the lead approached 350.
Lancashire started their second innings with a little over an hour’s play left on day three, and they slipped quickly to 17-2 in the 10th over.
Jones was lbw to Barker’s left-arm seamers before Procter became the fourth batsman of the day to be lbw offering no shot as off-spinner Patel, who praised Lancashire’s bowling display today, struck.
Brown was next to go, caught behind off Chris Wright to leave Lancashire at 26-3 in the 15th over and break the chain of all wickets falling today either bowled or lbw.
Kerrigan added: “We’re disappointed having won three out of the first five, and you’re looking at the other end of the table then. But it hasn’t worked out the way we wanted.
“We haven’t forced results in games we maybe could have done, but if we can fight tomorrow, we can take a draw and still be in Division One next year.”