Lancashire can still start the new season with a bang by beating Worcestershire in their LV= County Championship Division Two match at Emirates Old Trafford.
Rain for the second successive day today has undermined both side’s chances of victory, but the Red Rose still have a sniff ahead tomorrow’s fourth day having made the most of the 73 overs possible on day three.
They will resume in the morning on 250-3 from 92 overs of their first innings in reply to the visitors’ 334 following third day fifties for Paul Horton and Luke Procter, who shared an opening partnership of 97.
There was also an encouraging 34 for Karl Brown, while unbeaten duo Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich added an entertaining stand of 71 inside 16 overs before close to clinch a second batting point.
If they can continue their alliance during tomorrow’s morning session, the likelihood of a Lancashire win increases. However, it will be the bowlers who will have to do the bulk of the work because Worcester will need to be skittled in their second innings.
Horton, who scored 66, said: “We still have 18 overs to collect batting points. If we can get to 300, that will be great. We will assess it then. If we can push past them and put pressure on them after lunch, we will have to see. I am not sure what the game plan will be just yet.
“Once you lose the option of getting batting points, you have to make a call on what you are going to do. You either pull out straight away and have a bowl at them or push past them and put pressure on them with the ball after that.
“We can only control what we can do. Our aim is to collect points in the first 110 overs then asses where the game is going. If we are going to move the game forward or declare, that is our call.
“It might be a win for us or a loss, but at the moment you would say it is going to be a draw because only 13 wickets have fallen in three days.”
After 39 overs were lost during Thursday’s second day, another 23 were lost today either side of tea.
While survival at the crease has been relatively easy for both sides throughout the contest, scoring runs at a reasonable run-rate has been a different matter. That was shown by Horton’s runs coming off 214 balls. Procter’s 53 came off 118.
Prince and Katich attacked more than anybody else has in the match, and fingers crossed that will continue.
Horton looked untroubled and well placed for a hundred until he was run out in the 70th over of the innings by pushing to cover and calling Brown through for a single. The latter refused the run to leave Horton unsuccessfully scrambling to make his ground at the striker’s end.
Horton and Procter, who came together for the last 19 overs of day two, batted for the majority of the morning session as well. They shared only Lancashire’s fourth opening stand in the last 26 Championship innings, three of which have come in the last four.
Procter, who looked strong on the drive, reached his fifty with a whipped six over long-leg off Chris Russell two balls before he departed to in the 41st over of the innings. The left-hander played too early at a ball Russell delivery that seemed to stop in the pitch, and all he could do was prod it to mid-on.
Rain halted proceedings for two hours during the afternoon, but when play restarted at 5.20pm it took less than five overs for the visitors to pick up their third wicket. Brown edged Alan Richardson to Moeen Ali at first slip to leave the score at 179-3 in the 77th over.
Prince and Katich hit ten fours between them to score at a rate north of four and a half runs per over.
Horton added: “It is nice to get some runs in April, and I was happy with the way I have played.
“The run out is cricket. I hit it and called yes, my partner saw it as a no, and I was stranded half-way. It happens in the heat of the moment. I played well for 66, didn’t make many mistakes and hoped to be heading towards a big hundred. It is disappointing. But it was no-one’s fault. It has gone now.”
Photos (c) Simon Pendrigh