County Championship: Essex edge ahead of Warwickshire but draw still looms

Alastair Cook reaches 50 for Essex against Warwickshire
Alastair Cook struck eight fours in his 105-ball innings of 57
LV= County Championship Group One, Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (day three):
Warwickshire 166: Bresnan 50, Sibley 43; Siddle 6-38 & 0-0
Essex 217: A Cook 57, Ten Doeschate 56; Rhodes 3-21, Norwell 3-48
Essex (4 pts) lead Warwickshire (3 pts) by 51 runs

Essex edged ahead of Warwickshire with a narrow first-innings lead but a draw still looks likely after more time was lost due to rain and bad light.

Half-centuries from Alastair Cook (57) and Ryan ten Doeschate (56) guided Essex to 217 in reply to Warwickshire's 166 to secure a lead of 51.

The hosts had slumped to 125-6 but some lower-order runs secured them both a lead and a batting bonus point.

Warwickshire closed on 0-0 after just one over of their second innings.

Essex had resumed the third day on 16-1, but only 16 overs were possible in the morning session due to rain and bad light.

Cook and Dan Lawrence (14) did manage to add 48 for the third wicket but Warwickshire found breakthroughs at regular intervals after that to limit their ambitions of building a big lead.

Liam Norwell (3-48) and Will Rhodes (3-21) both took three wickets, but Essex fought back and were indebted to Ten Doeschate and Simon Harmer (40 not out) adding 44 for the seventh wicket to edge them ahead.

Harmer also shepherded the rest of the tail to take Essex past 200 and frustrate the visitors.

However, a draw looks like being the outcome unless spinner Harmer can produce another of his tricky spells on the Chelmsford pitch that has brought him so many wickets in recent seasons.

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