County Championship – day two (close)

Somerset 199 & 269-5 v Yorkshire 103-9

SOMERSET built a substantial lead over Yorkshire on an action-packed second day in Taunton which ended with the hosts firmly in control.

Half-centuries from Tom Abell (62) and James Hildreth (58) helped Somerset to a close of play lead of 365, following a frantic morning which saw Yorkshire lose six wickets for 33 runs to surrender a strong overnight position.

With Ben Coad unwell and therefore unable to bat or bowl during the second day, the innings was wrapped up on 103-9 – the final six wickets having fallen in a little over half an hour.

Roelof van der Merwe was particularly threatening on just his second Championship appearance of the season, taking 3-16, while Josh Davey chipped in with 3-30.

Somerset’s response with the bat, however, was far from emphatic to begin with.

Murali Vijay completed a lean Somerset debut as he was trapped in front by Maharaj without scoring and, when his opening partner Steve Davies fell in identical fashion to the first innings (driving on the up and caught at point), Somerset were 4-2.

Such precarious situations require leaders and, in Tom Abell, Somerset had just the man.

His 66 in the first innings was worth plenty more in the context of the game and he was in similarly determined mood second time around, supported by a welcome return to form for James Hildreth.

Five of Hildreth’s last six Championship innings before this one had ended in single figure scores but, after an aggressive start, he dug in alongside Abell and passed 50 for the first time since June.

The pair put on 117 for the third wicket before Hildreth was well caught at short leg, but Tom Banton picked up the mantle and scored at a brisk rate.

The 20-year-old hit eight fours and a six in his 43 from 48 balls before falling to the final ball before tea, which arrived with the hosts on 191-4.

Abell was trapped in front without further addition to the score upon the restart, though his second vital half century of the match had helped his team open up a lead of nigh on 300 and breezy knocks from George Bartlett and Lewis Gregory soon took the advantage past 350.

Bartlett used his feet well against Maharaj and was not afraid to attack, launching a six over long-on, and reached a carefree 39 before bad light brought an early end to proceedings with Somerset 269-5.

The youngster will resume in the morning alongside Lewis Gregory, who is unbeaten on 38, with Somerset’s lead already looking an imposing one.

With a draw looking the best option for Essex at Edgbaston – Warwickshire batted for 175.5 overs in making 516 – a win here would put Somerset back on top of the Championship table with two matches to play.

Speaking afterwards, Abell said: “The game was in the balance overnight but we have really taken control today.

“My role has been similar in both innings – bat long and let others play around me.

“It is always nice to contribute and I thought Hildy was fantastic today and helped us seize the initiative.

“We have had a few of those sessions this season where we take six or seven wickets and the one this morning turned the game on its head.

“It is a slow wicket which is difficult to score on but I think it’s a good wicket. As a batsmen you want to be tested and work hard for your runs.

“I think there are still runs for us to get out there and then we will look to put a huge amount of pressure on with the ball.”

Yorkshire, meanwhile, could be two batsmen down in their final innings. Will Fraine will not open, though coach Paul Grayson said he was “hopeful he would bat at some stage”, while Ben Coad missed day two with an illness and Grayson said the seamer is “struggling a bit […] we will see where he is at.”