Mal Loye and VVS Laxman both recorded much needed hundreds in the midst of an unbroken third wicket partnership of 247 to ensure Lancashire gained a crucial County Championship draw against Somerset at Taunton today.
Loye, who is fast closing in on 1,000 Championship runs for the season, finished the day unbeaten on 151 off 312 balls, while Indian star Laxman hit 113 not out off 265. They hit 32 boundaries between them, with the former plundering 19 of them.
Loye and Laxman batted through 86 overs untroubled, 77 of them on today’s fourth day, and helped Lancashire to an impressive second innings total of 314-2 declared after 111 overs.
The eight points Lancashire take from this contest means they are all but guaranteed to be playing LV Division One cricket next season. The fact that Sussex, Yorkshire and Hampshire below them play games against themselves in the final fortnight helps Lancashire’s cause.
“It was seriously important that we got a draw out of the game,” said Loye. “The way I went about it was to try and win every hour.”
There were few alarms for either men, the odd edge through the slip cordon here and there in the afternoon and evening sessions, whilst Laxman was dropped on 40 by wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter off the bowling of Charl Willoughby, who bowled some left-arm spin late in the piece, this morning.
Loye reached three figures off 205 balls with eleven fours – his second of the season – with a square driven boundary off Willoughby. He needs another 30 runs to reach the 1,000 mark, and is on course to do so in the final week of the season against Warwickshire at Old Trafford, a match which starts on Wednesday, September 23.
This was the 36 year-old’s highest score in Championship cricket since he hit 187 against Worcestershire at Blackpool in 2005.
“I’ve been playing pretty well, how I want to play, for about two months. Today I was really pleased with how I set it up,” he continued.
Laxman, who was by no means anywhere near his elegant best, reached his ton after tea with a back foot punch for four off David Stiff. This was, without doubt, a match saving partnership from the in-form pair, who helped the Red Rose to recover from 67-2 last night.
“We were a little bit worried when we lost Paul (Horton) last night,” said Loye. “We knew that we had a big day ahead of us, and it was always going to be a crucial first hour. We couldn’t afford to lose a wicket. Once we got through that, we were quietly confident at lunch.”
The Red Rose squad travel from Taunton to Cardiff tonight where they face Glamorgan in the Pro40 League Division Two on Monday evening.
Previous day reports: Day 1 I Day 2 I Day 3
Photo: Phil Mingo, Pinnacle
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd