Essex set for compelling final day at Warwickshire
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Group One's joint leaders Warwickshire and Essex are set for a compelling final-day denouement at Edgbaston after the visitors closed the third day on 213 for nine - 224 ahead.
In a match which has been a terrific advertisement for the LV=Insurance County Championship, both sides have been under pressure at times but fought back in turn with immense skill and spirit.
Replying to Essex's 295, the home side was bowled out for 284, a strong recovery from 193 for eight, to ultimately trail by just 11.
Essex then slid to 36 for five in their second innings, but Dan Lawrence (55, 110 balls, seven fours) and Simon Harmer (62 not out, 182 balls, seven fours) dug in to ensure that Warwickshire face a tricky victory target on a pitch offering turn.
After Warwickshire resumed on the third morning on 243 for eight, Danny Briggs (66 not out, 119 balls, six fours, two sixes) and Craig Miles (25, 95 balls) took their partnership to 66 in 32 overs before the latter fell lbw to Jamie Porter.
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Briggs reached 50 from 108 balls and celebrated by lifting Porter over mid-wicket for six. Harmer then trapped Olly Hannon-Dalby lbw to end the innings and finish with a personal four for 89.
In 14 overs before lunch, Essex hit heavy turbulence to go into the interval on 25 for four.
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Sir Alastair Cook lifted Hannon-Dalby to Rob Yates at point, Miles removed Tom Westley, brilliantly caught at mid-wicket by Will Rhodes, and Nick Browne, lbw, and then Hannon-Dalby had Paul Walter caught behind.
Seven overs into the afternoon, Stone added the wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate, lbw, but Adam Wheater counter-attacked for 30 (46 balls, six fours) before lifting Miles to Hanuma Vihari at long leg.
Lawrence played a terrific innings for his team, applying himself diligently for almost three hours, but hit the self-destruct button when he attempted an unwise single to mid on and was beaten by Miles's throw.
Essex's bowlers then showed their mettle with the bat. Peter Siddle contributed a useful 20 (21 balls) before Miles continued his excellent day by inducing an edge to the wicketkeeper.
Harmer and Sam Cook added a valuable 33 and, after Cook top-edged Stone to mid-wicket, Harmer completed a half-century on which he will aim to build another match-winning bowling display tomorrow.
Essex batting coach Tom Huggins said: "The lads showed typical character and fight. At 36 for five it was not the position we wanted to find ourselves in but Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater pulled things around and Simon Harmer added valuable runs at the end.
"There is plenty of cricket left in this game yet but we feel we have given ourselves a chance that didn’t seem likely going into lunch."