|LV= County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford (day two, close)|
|Essex 328-7: Ryder 116, Bopara 99, Ten Doeschate 59; Anderson 4-56|
|Lancashire: Yet to bat|
|Essex 3 pts; Lancashire 2 pts|
Jesse Ryder hit a century and shared a 186-run fourth-wicket partnership with Ravi Bopara to give Essex the edge over Lancashire at Chelmsford.
After day one was washed out, Essex fell to 29-3 before Ryder smashed 116 off just 138 balls - hitting 17 fours and three sixes in his innings.
James Anderson took 4-56 from 24 overs, including trapping his England captain Alastair Cook lbw for just a single.
England all-rounder Bopara then fell for 99 as the hosts closed on 328-7.
Lancashire need to polish off the Essex tail quickly on the third morning and then try to press on with the bat in the hope of forcing a victory that might give them a chance of pipping Surrey to the Division Two title.
They began the match eight points in arrears and need to somehow beat Essex and hope Surrey can do no better than draw against Northants at The Oval.
Essex all-rounder Jesse Ryder:
"We are pretty happy with where we are at the moment because the pitch was pretty tricky early doors. The partnership Ravi and I put together has put us in a decent spot.
"It's been a season of stops and starts for me so it's nice to finish the season off with a hundred.
"Hopefully, I can score a few more centuries next year. I love playing over here and I want to make it a long-term arrangement."
Lancashire and England fast bowler James Anderson:
"It was a bit of a frustrating day as we won the toss and put them in thinking that, with the pitch having been under the covers for a few days and with the weather around, it might be doing a little bit and it did.
"Me and Glen Chapple bowled quite well up front with the first new ball and got three early wickets but, after that, certainly my second spell and a few of the other lads will be disappointed with their performance.
"There was a good fightback from us with the second new ball. And, to be fair to them, Ravi Bopara and Jesse Ryder played really well. But we thought we could bowl them out for a reasonable score of maybe 250 especially after the start we got."