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County Championship: Lancashire thump Somerset by 10 wickets to keep title hopes alive

Lancashire in the hunt for County Championship title and Bob Willis Trophy Final after thrashing Somerset by 10 wickets at Taunton; Somerset out of the running but can secure silverware by winning Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday

Lancashire, County Championship (Getty Images)
Image: Lancashire thrashed Somerset by 10 wickets inside three days at Taunton

Lancashire kept their flickering LV= Insurance County Championship title hopes alive by completing a 10-wicket thrashing of Somerset before lunch on the third day at Taunton.

The home side could add only 88 to their overnight second-innings score of 226-4 before being bowled out for 314, a lead of only 31 runs.

There were two wickets each for Tom Bailey (2-81), George Balderson (2-82) and Jack Blatherwick (2-67), with spinner Luke Wells, who had figures of 3-8 from seven overs on day two, not required to bowl.

Lancashire openers Alex Davies (22no off 20 balls) and Balderson (10no off 16) took just six overs to knock off the required runs and the morning session was extended slightly for the match to be completed.

The visitors - who temporarily topped the table before dropping to second after Hampshire beat Nottinghamshire later on Tuesday - took 23 points from the game to Somerset's three, with the hosts, bottom of Division One, now out of the running for a top-two finish with just one round of fixtures to go.

Somerset can end their season with a trophy, though, as they will be involved in Saturday's Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, alongside their semi-final opponents Hampshire as well as Kent and Sussex.

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Somerset captain Tom Abell is confident his side can triumph at Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday

Heavily overcast skies on Tuesday meant the floodlights at the Cooper Associates County Ground were employed and must have encouraged the Lancashire bowlers.

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James Hildreth (26) had added only four to his overnight score of 22 when playing one of the ugliest shots of his illustrious career and top-edging a catch to point off Bailey.

Lewis Goldsworthy produced a few defiant blows before departing for 21, pinned lbw by Bailey in the eighth over of the day.

At 248-6, Somerset still needed 35 to make Lancashire bat again but did so and avoided a third successive innings defeat with Steven Davies (22no), Roelof van der Merwe (23) and Jack Brooks (15) making contributions.

Balderson removed Van der Merwe and Brooks and Blatherwick accounted for Marchant de Lange (0) and Ned Leonard (6) before Balderson and Davies completed a comprehensive victory for Lancashire.

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Rain prevented any play in the clash between Lancashire's Division One rivals Yorkshire and Warwickshire at Emerald Headingley.

Derbyshire vs Kent, Leicestershire vs Sussex, Middlesex vs Worcestershire, Northamptonshire vs Durham and Surrey vs Essex also saw no action whatsoever on day three.

Gloucestershire appear to be closing in on victory over Glamorgan in Cardiff, with the home side reaching stumps on 57-6 and still 53 runs behind going into the final day of the Division Two clash.

Gloucestershire were 39-0 but then lost six wickets for 18 runs, with Pakistan spinner Zafar Gohar taking three of them, including Nick Selman and Kiran Carlson for ducks.

The visitors had earlier moved from their overnight 224-4 to 419 all out to fashion a first-innings lead of 109 - Graeme van Buuren failed to add to his overnight score of 65 and Gloucestershire were 279-7 at one stage, but No 9 batsman Tom Price hit 71 amid a number of lower-order contributions.

Watch Vitality Blast Finals Day live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Saturday as Somerset, Hampshire, Kent and Sussex vie for the title.

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