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Keshav Maharaj takes 11 wickets as spin decides dramatic tie

County Championship, news

Keshav Maharaj's spin wizardry for Lanchashire against Somerset on Wednesday, 5 September, resulted in the first tie in 15 years in the County Championship.

Playing only his second game for Lancashire, the South Africa spinner returned brilliant match figures of 11/102 in Taunton. Set a target of just 78, an easy win was on the cards for Somerset – until they were bowled out for 77. 

The County Championship Division One match was Lancashire’s first tie since 1952, and Somerset’s first since 1939. 

First, it was Graham Onions, the right-arm paceman, who struck in the first two balls of the fourth over, sending back Marcus Trescothick and Azhar Ali for a duck. Maharaj then ran through Somerset's middle and lower order.

With the scores level, Somerset had two wickets in hand with Bess and Jamie Overton at the crease. With one required to win, Maharaj had Bess stumped, Onion bowled a maiden over, and Maharaj returned to have Jack Leach, the No.10, caught at wide long-on. Maharaj returned 7/37, while Onions took three wickets.

Somerset's Jack Leach finished with career-best match figures of 12/102
Somerset's Jack Leach finished with career-best match figures of 12/102

Earlier, batting first, Lancashire were bowled out for a paltry 99, with Leach, the Somerset spinner, picking up five wickets. In reply, the home side posted 192.

A better batting performance on the second day saw Lancashire taking the lead to 77 before they were bundled out for a second-innings score of 170.

The game was wrapped up inside two days, with spinners making the most of the suitable conditions. 

Somerset's Leach, who finished with career-best match figures of 12/102, said: "It was a great game of cricket. [But it] definitely feels like a loss to us and is disappointing. It was a serious game of cricket and at the end of it we are all gutted."

Crediting the opposition bowlers, he said, "Lancashire put us under a lot of pressure and bowled really well. Onions took a lot of wickets but also put pressure on us and at the opposite end. Maharaj is a world-class bowler and showed us what he is all about in the game. It was a very tight game and while it’s very disappointing, it’s the way it goes sometimes."

Of the 22 wickets falling on the opening day and a similar number on the next, the spinners took 25. Leach felt it reflected the mindset of England batsmen while facing spin.

"If you look at the batting from both sides throughout the game, it hasn’t been particularly good and it actually shows a lot about how we English play spin. As soon as the ball starts to spin we think it isn’t right so we panic, play more shots and don’t play the ball on merit.

"We shouldn’t shy away from playing on wickets like that because it’s the same for both teams. Lancashire came here fully equipped with a Test match spinner and a young leg-spinner, so both teams were well equipped."


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