County Championship: Lancashire close on title after thrilling one-wicket win over Hampshire
Lancashire claimed a thrilling one-wicket win over title rivals Hampshire as they chased down 196 for victory at Liverpool to put them on the brink of a first County Championship crown in 10 years; Warwickshire can snatch the title with victory over Somerset on day four
By PA Media
Last Updated: 23/09/21 8:49pm
A thrilling third-day performance from Lancashire saw them earn what could be a Championship-winning victory after seeing off title rivals Hampshire by the barest of margins at Aigburth.
As news filtered through from Edgbaston of Warwickshire's travails against Somerset, this game turned into a winner-takes-all clash with Lancashire turning out to be the team that held their nerve on a day of unbelievable tension that could not have had a closer finish as the Red Rose got over the line by one wicket.
With Hampshire resuming on 158-7, Lancashire needed quick wickets to keep the target manageable and Tom Bailey duly obliged, trapping Felix Organ in front for eight before Keith Barker feathered one behind for four.
When George Balderson finished the innings off with the wicket of Mohammad Abbas for six, Bailey's figures were a career-best 7-37 with the Preston-born seamer also claiming 50 wickets for the season at 16.86.
With the bowlers completing their part of the bargain in setting a target of 196 it was over to the batters and Alex Davies, playing his final innings in front of the Red Rose faithful before a move to Warwickshire, quickly showed he meant business.
Two consecutive boundaries off Barker and a towering six over mid-on off Liam Dawson's first delivery were the highlights as the wicketkeeper batter took the game to Hampshire in typically dynamic fashion.
Balderson played his part too and when the young all-rounder was bowled around his legs by Dawson for 12, the opening pair had put on 55 runs and made serious inroads to the target of 196.
But as has been the pattern with this game, there was more drama to come and only two more runs had been added when Davies cut a wide one from Barker straight to Mason Crane at point and was out for 44 from 43 balls.
At 57-2, there was no need to panic and Josh Bohannon and Luke Wells brought a sense of calm to proceedings as they took the total past the 100-mark before Bohannon became Crane's first victim off the leg spinner's third delivery which was edged to James Vince at slip.
Wells continued to bat nicely and had struck six boundaries when he nicked one through to Vince for 39 off Brad Wheal to leave Lancashire 118 for four and the host's nerves beginning to jangle.
Lancashire's two most experienced players were now at the crease and skipper Dane Vilas and the evergreen Steven Croft finally began to make the home crowd believe as they steered the Red Rose to 150.
Crane continued to look the most potent of the Hampshire attack and when he had Croft lbw for 20 there was another flicker of belief in the visitors that was quickly extinguished by Vilas and Danny Lamb's intelligent running between the wickets.
And then suddenly Crane picked up two more victims when Lamb edged to second slip and Luke Wood was caught at bat pad before the tension became almost unbearable when Crane, who finished with 5-41, ran Bailey out without scoring with just three runs needed.
Jack Blatherwick scrambled a single to keep the strike for another Crane over and the England spinner picked up his fifth wicket when the No 10 edged to Joe Weatherley to bring Matt Parkinson to the crease.
With a Hampshire crowd around the bat, the leg spinner negotiated two balls before Vilas swept a four off Dawson to claim the victory ahead of an agonising wait for news from Birmingham.
However, Warwickshire are one powerful day's cricket away from lifting the LV=Insurance County Championship title after a strong fightback against Somerset on the third day at Edgbaston.
Lancashire's amazing win over Hampshire has left the Bears with a very simple equation. Victory over Somerset will bring the title to Edgbaston for the eighth time in the club's history.
The equation is simple, but forcing victory will be a far from simple business for Will Rhodes' side on an excellent batting pitch.
They closed the third day on 179-1 - 157 ahead, so need to press on briskly with the bat on day four to give themselves time to try to take 10 wickets on a batter-friendly surface.
A magnificent 153 from opener Adam Lyth left Nottinghamshire with work to do to finish the County Championship season with the win that could see them contest the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord's next week. Notts vs Yorkshire scorecard
WICKET & INNINGS | The returning Dane Paterson finishes off the tail!— Nottinghamshire CCC (@TrentBridge) September 23, 2021
Revis swings at the seamer and pops a catch to Joe Clarke at mid-on for 34.
Yorkshire are 396 all out. Notts will require 174 to win.
Watch #NottsvYorks on Trent Bridge Live 👉 https://t.co/1iEGBx7fY1 pic.twitter.com/W7yXKDQ9te
Bowled out for 73 in their first innings, Yorkshire made 396 following on before Nottinghamshire could dismiss them for a second time.
Chasing 174 to win, the home side closed the third day needing 132 more on 42-1 after Haseeb Hameed, who did not field in Yorkshire's second innings because of an injured thumb, was caught at second slip.
Lancashire's win over Hampshire means Nottinghamshire cannot be champions but a victory would give them the chance to take on Lancashire in the season finale at Lord's by finishing second if Warwickshire fail to beat Somerset.
Derbyshire condemned Sussex to the wooden spoon by claiming their first win of the season at Hove. Sussex vs Derbyshire scorecard
After enforcing the follow-on with a lead of 165, Derbyshire bowled Sussex out for 187 before knocking off the 23 required to win by nine wickets with more than a day to spare.
Jamie Smith scored a career-best 138 as Surrey dug in at the Kia Oval in search of a run-filled draw against Glamorgan. Surrey vs Glamorgan scorecard
Surrey, in reply to Glamorgan's 672-6 declared, reached the end of day three on 387-2, but the Welsh county will rue dropping Hashim Amla three times as he reached 87 not out.
Ollie Pope was unbeaten on 95, having dominated an unbroken stand of 140 in 40 overs for the third wicket with Amla, while Ryan Patel hit 10 fours in his 62 from 138 balls. Surrey will now aim to bat out the final day.
Worcestershire beat Leicestershire by 10 wickets to end Daryl Mitchell's 17 seasons at the county on a winning note. Worcs vs Leics scorecard
Leicestershire avoided an innings defeat but Mitchell and Jake Libby knocked off the 12 runs needed for victory.
The Division Three title race is going the distance after Kent reached 275-5 against Middlesex, with Ollie Robinson hitting 112. Kent vs Middlesex scorecard
The hosts, currently second, need another 98 to overhaul leaders Middlesex.