A record-breaking 10th-wicket stand between Alex Davies and Kyle Jarvis put an absorbing game firmly in Lancashire’s grasp on the third day of the LV= County Cricket Championship Division Two match against Derbyshire at Derby.
Davies, who made a career-best 89, put on 100 from 93 balls with Jarvis to take Lancashire to 345 in their second innings and set Derbyshire a tough victory target of 365.
Ashwell Prince (97) and Steven Croft (70) had dug Lancashire out of trouble with a fifth-wicket partnership of 159 in 42 overs and although Tom Taylor returned a career-best six for 61, Derbyshire were struggling at the close on 27 for two.
The home side’s prospects looked so much brighter at the start of the day when Lancashire were facing a potential crisis after Alviro Petersen was undone by some astute captaincy from Wayne Madsen.
Petersen had been taking a couple of strides down the pitch to unsettle the bowlers until wicketkeeper Harvey Hosein came up to the stumps to keep him in his crease and the tactic paid off when Taylor had him lbw.
With Lancashire 43 for four, only 62 in front, the advantage was with Derbyshire but the pendulum swung again as Prince and Croft played with application to bat through to lunch.
Prince pulled Shiv Thakor for his sixth four to reach 50, the 36th time he had done so for Lancashire in 103 Championship innings, and the pair accelerated after lunch with 44 coming from 12 overs.
Batting was looking easier than at any other stage in the match but wickets had fallen in clusters and Taylor checked Lancashire’s advance with three in seven overs.
Croft was snared at backward point for 70 from 130 balls and swing accounted for both Tom Smith and Prince to put Derbyshire back in the chase only for Davies to give a compelling contest what could be a decisive twist.
He mixed sound defence with selective aggression to reel off a salvo of attacking strokes to cruise past his previous highest of 62 and with Jarvis more than playing his part - he twice drove Mark Footitt for four - they beat Lancashire’s previous 10th-wicket record stand against Derbyshire of 83, set by Gary Yates and Glen Chapple at Blackpool in 1994.
Davies drove Wes Durston straight for his fifth six to bring up the 100 stand but was caught next ball at long off to leave Derbyshire with 13 overs to negotiate before the close.
They lost openers Billy Godleman and Ben Slater to Tom Bailey and Peter Siddle, respectively, to give Lancashire an excellent chance of starting the campaign with a victory.
Davies said: “A lead of 250, 260 is quite slender going into a full day on Wednesday so we knew we had to hang around and help the team get into a good position.
“Those extra runs will give us a bit more scoreboard pressure and the pitch is still doing a bit laterally and will start to go up and down as well which will help us.
“I think the weather is set fair and if we bowl anything like (we can), we should be able to knock them over.”
Derbyshire have it all to do but Taylor said: “I think it’s definitely possible, it’s just how many big partnerships we can get and we’ve got to chip in.
“The ball has swung and it will swing again in the morning so it would be a great win but we fancy ourselves to try and get them on Wednesday.”