Lancs in control but losing hope of winning the title

LV County Championship Division One, Taunton
Close, day three: Somerset 388 & 105-5, Lancashire 480
Lancashire 7pts, Somerset 7pts
Match scorecard
Live commentary
Lancashire celebrate a Somerset wicket
Glen Chapple leads the celebrations as Lancashire take a Somerset wicket

Lancashire's title hopes are fading fast thanks to Hampshire's demise at The Rose Bowl, but the visitors do at least seem in control of this game.

After earning maximum batting points by reaching 480, the Red Rose then reduced Somerset to 105-5 by the close.

Murali Kartik took 5-137 for Somerset and it is the Lancashire spinners who now appear to hold the key.

The visiting pacemen reduced Somerset to 25-3, but James Hildreth (39) was defiant until removed by Gary Keedy.

While Lancashire must win to keep alive their hopes of a first outright County Championship triumph since 1934, they also have to hope that bottom-of-the-table Hampshire can somehow avoid defeat against Warwickshire on the final day of the season at The Rose Bowl.

Kyle Hogg hit a priceless 46 and claimed the 50th first-class wicket of the season as Lancashire fought hard to keep their title hopes alive.

Starting the day on 247-3, in reply to Somerset's 380, the visitors had progressed to 331-6 when Hogg went in, with Lancashire still needing a further 69 for maximum batting bonus points.

But the in-form tail-ender (he has now hit 46, 18, 51 and 46 in his last four Championship innings) helped his side get to 400 with just three balls to spare.

And they went on to score 480, for a lead of 100, with the rare sight on the card of every player contributing a double-figure score.

When Gareth Cross was caught at extra cover off Alfonso Thomas, Lancashire were still 29 short of a fifth batting point with overs running out.

As tension grew Hogg, on 29, survived a catch in the deep, Hildreth misjudging the flight of the ball and allowing it to go over his head for four.

Then, with three still required in the 110th over, Glen Chapple was dropped by Steve Kirby, top-edging a hook off Thomas.

But two runs were taken, the next delivery brought the required single and Lancashire's next task was to build a meaningful first-innings lead.

That they did as a last-wicket stand of 57 between spinners Simon Kerrigan, who made a career-best 40, and Keedy earned their side a winning platform.

When Somerset batted again, Hogg then dismissed Alex Barrow and Chris Jones, after Chapple, who has limped through this game with a hamstring problem, had dismissed Arul Suppiah lbw.

Hildreth and Jos Buttler (27) tidied things up with a stand of 67. And hearts must have sunk when, with Somerset on 71-3, a tannoy announcement revealed that Hampshire were following on against Warwickshire.

But spirits were revived when Hildreth was stumped advancing down the track to Keedy before Buttler was brilliantly caught by Paul Horton at slip of a sharply turning ball from Kerrigan.

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