Somerset keep title bid on track with nerveless chase to beat Warwickshire
Somerset gave their hopes of a maiden County Championship title a huge boost as they completed a nerveless final-day chase to beat Warwickshire by five wickets at Edgbaston.
Needing 250 to win with 10 wickets in hand at the start of day four, the visitors chased down the target in 72.4 overs to secure an invaluable 21 points as they look to edge out Essex and Yorkshire, who both won this week.
Essex’s remarkable victory at Kent on Tuesday extended their lead at the top of Division One to 23 points and piled the pressure onto Somerset.
But they responded in style. Their chances looked slim as Warwickshire reduced the visitors to 49 for three, but Tom Banton made 66 and an 88-run stand between George Bartlett and Dom Bess guided Somerset over the line.
Somerset are now two points adrift of Essex with three games to play and they face each other in the final round at Taunton.
Yorkshire claimed the six wickets they needed to keep themselves in title contention, beating struggling Nottinghamshire by 143 runs shortly after lunch on day four at Scarborough.
Nottinghamshire, chasing an unlikely 387, started the day on 135 for four and were bowled out for 243 as South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj claimed six for 95.
Yorkshire’s haul of 20 points maintains their place in third, and they will head into the final three rounds 37 points behind leaders Essex.
Hampshire strengthened their grip on fourth with a gritty batting display to secure a draw against Surrey at the Oval.
The visitors looked in trouble after Amar Virdi’s three wickets reduced them to 175 for five shortly before tea, still 37 runs away from an innings defeat.
But Liam Dawson made 65 and shared an unbroken 78-run stand with debutant Harry Came – who scored 23 from 89 balls – to steer Hampshire to a position of safety.
Gloucestershire moved up to second in Division Two after strengthening their promotion claims with a superb run chase to beat Derbyshire by eight wickets.
Tom Lace’s third century of the season batted Derbyshire into a position of strength as the hosts declared on 481 for six – setting Gloucestershire a target of 263 in 49 overs.
It was a run rate that appeared unthinkable, but Chris Dent set the tone with 62 from 90 balls before opening partner James Bracey took centre stage with a sensational unbeaten 116 from just 143 balls to lead Gloucestershire to victory with 11 balls to spare.
A defiant century from Mark Cosgrove salvaged a draw for Leicestershire at Durham.
The Australian began the day unbeaten on 21, with his team still 155 runs behind the home side, but scored his first century of the campaign to save his team from defeat before bad light ended the contest.
Durham are fifth in Division Two and remain well in contention for a promotion spot, but will be frustrated not to have secured a win that appeared to be in their grasp against the bottom side.