Spinners, Jennings carve out strong Lancashire position but rain looms

Spinners, Jennings carve out strong Lancashire position but rain looms

lancashire 327 and 182 for 6 (Jennings 64*) advantage warwickshire 212 (Rhodes 82) for 297 runs

Lancashire were hoping for good weather on the final day of their LV=Insurance County Championship with Warwickshire after they took over on day three at Edgbaston.

An incisive burst of spin bowling followed by patient batting has fashioned a solid position for the Red Rose. After taking the home team out for 212, for a first-innings lead of 115, Lancashire closed out a rain-shortened third day at 182 for 6 – 297 ahead as Keaton Jennings built an unbeaten 64 from 174 balls.

On a slow pitch that has never been easy to hit, the visitors were prepared to put Warwickshire under pressure on the final day, but needed the bad weather forecast not to be right. The ever-present dark clouds over Edgbaston this week are likely to have the last word.

That would be frustrating for Jennings’ team, which finally moved the match forward in its seventh session after the previous six had progressed several degrees slowly. After Warwickshire resumed on the third day at 179 for 5, the Red Rose deployed their spinners, partly because the light was so bad, and it proved to be a very productive move as the last five wickets fell for 29 runs on 88 balls.

The catalyst for the collapse was Dan Mousley’s indiscreet reverse sweep (47 of 97 balls) straight past Jack Morley. The left-arm spinner followed Michael Burgess declared caught with a slipped leg before Luke Wells picked off Danny Briggs, caught on the batface on short leg.

Warwickshire wasted their last two wickets as Olly Hannon-Dalby ran out for a non-existent single and Chris Rushworth, batting with a runner due to a hamstring injury, charged at Wells and was stumped for yardage. Suddenly, after two finely balanced days, Lancashire had taken a meaty 115 lead.

The batting continued to be tricky when they came on again and Wells’s hitherto happy morning came to a tailspin when lbw dropped to Hannon-Dalby’s third ball. Josh Bohannon came closest to fluency in a 25 for 40 ball that ended when he passed Hannon-Dalby to substitute for outfielder Marques Ackerman at midwicket, but Jennings anchored deep and entered lunch with just a 42-ball single.

The boss remained barricaded throughout the afternoon while the partners came and went. Phil Salt yanked Ed Barnard. Daryl Mitchell skidded past Mir Hamza to give Ackerman his second catch. When George Bell struck Briggs behind, 83 for 5 and Warwickshire, despite Rushworth’s absence, fought back strongly.

Still, Jennings’ anchor remained and first-inning century creator George Balderson settled next to him to reaffirm the Red Rose. Jennings recorded a half-century from 163 balls in a partnership of 92 in 26 overs that looked set to get much bigger until Balderson self-destructed. He set off for a single when his hit was stopped by bowler Briggs and, correctly bowled back by Jennings, was beaten by Sam Hain’s pitch from extra cover.

With the lead approaching 300, Lancashire had just started looking for acceleration when rain came to cut off the last 20 overs. That lost time, with probably more to follow, is likely to stymie Red Rose’s bid for a win.