A spell of 7-37 from South Africa left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj secured Lancashire a share of the points in their County Championship clash with Somerset at Taunton, bowling the hosts out for 77 in pursuit of just 78.
The result came well inside two days, with spin causing havoc throughout – Maharaj also took four wickets in the first innings, while Somerset’s Jack Leach took 12 in the match. It was his dismissal which brought the game to a conclusion, the second of two wickets to fall with the scores level, as he and Dominic Bess both chose to try and smash the ball into the stands with one run needed to win.
😱 MATCH TIED 😱
Leach holes out and IT IS A TIE!
— County Championship (@CountyChamp) September 5, 2018
It is the first tie in the Championship since 1993, Lancashire’s first tie since 1952, and Somerset’s first since 1939.
The impact the spinners had, and Somerset’s reputation for producing spin-friendly surfaces when they need a positive result, has led some to speculate that a points penalty for producing a pitch rated ‘poor’ might be on the way, though as the wickets of Bess and Leach demonstrated, much of the blame lay at the door of the batsmen.
There were periods in which both sides showed scoring wasn’t impossible. Lewis Gregory made an unbeaten 64 in the first innings – his third successive Championship half-century – and helped Somerset’s last two wickets add 88 after they had been 104-8. A similar tail-wag and a half-century from Steve Croft helped Lancashire post the 78-run target which Somerset just failed to chase down.
Whatever the result of the pitch inspector’s report, it is a result that might well bring to an end Somerset’s title ambitions. Surrey, already boasting a sizeable lead atop the table, claimed close to maximum bonus points against Essex, and appear to be marching towards yet another victory, while Somerset will gain only eight points for the tie, and no batting bonus points.