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Lancashire strike late blows to leave Championship opener with Notts finally poised

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Tom Bailey struck three late blows and Joe Mennie took his first two wickets for Lancashire to leave their Specsavers County Championship match against Nottinghamshire evenly poised at the end of what was effectively the first day of the game at Emirates Old Trafford.

Replying to the home side’s 158, in which Jake Ball took five for 43, the visitors were 127 for six at the end of a remarkable third session which did not end until nearly seven-thirty in the evening. That left Nottinghamshire with a deficit of 31 after a day in which 16 wickets had fallen.

In the morning there was little surprise at Steven Mullaney’s decision to bowl first on a pitch which helped the seamers but his new-ball pairing, Ball and Luke Fletcher, initially bowled a little too short. Ball, though, immediately gained the benefits of a fuller length when he had Haseeb Hameed leg before for seven and Harry Gurney then had Keaton Jennings caught and bowled off a leading edge for 11 with the third ball of his spell.

Wood’s direction was awry in his first over and Davies collected two boundaries but the effervescent left-arm seamer then knocked out Livingstone’s off stump when the Lancashire skipper was playing no shot and another inswinger in the next over had Davies leg before for 23.

The best spell of the day for Lancashire came just after lunch when Dane Vilas and Shivnarine Chanderpaul extended their fifth-wicket partnership to 64 with Vilas taking the lead with some dominant strokeplay off Ball and Luke Wood.

However, Chanderpaul was caught by Jake Libby at square leg for 11 when attempting a pull off Luke Fletcher and Vilas was bowled through the gate by Harry Gurney when one short of his half-century.

And it was Ball’s removal of Steven Croft and Tom Bailey with successive deliveries which put the final skids under Lancashire, the Nottinghamshire spearhead finishing off the innings by taking four wickets in 14 balls

Ball took two wickets in two balls to get rid of Steven Croft and Bailey and in his next over had Jordan Clark caught at deep square leg by Wood for 19. The same combination removed Graham Onions without scoring to leave Lancashire needing a fightback from their bowlers in the evening session.

That began when Onions took his first Championship wicket for Lancashire, although that came courtesy of a leg-side “strangle” which removed Jake Libby for 15. Bailey then had Mullaney well caught by Davies for 24 when the keeper dived in front of first slip to take the catch.

The same bowler removed Chris Nash, also for 24, when the ex-Sussex batsman played across the line to a ball which may have been drifting down leg and Bailey then had Ross Taylor lbw for nine to complete a fine fightback.

Mennie then induced Samit Patel to play on when he had made 28 and nightwatchman Luke Fletcher was caught down the leg side for two.