A fine score of 106 from Ashwell Prince helped Lancashire to a valuable first-innings lead on a rain-shortened third day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against Durham at Emirates Old Trafford.
Needing a win to increase their chances of avoiding relegation, Glen Chapple’s side led by 81 before the visitors replied with 59 for one, Mark Stoneman being caught at short leg by Steven Croft off Simon Kerrigan for 29 seven overs before the close.
The Lancashire slow left-armer extracted enough turn and bounce from the pitch used for the Test match against India to give his side some hope of forcing a victory on the last day of the game.
That, however, may be dependant on rain, which trimmed 33 overs off Sunday’s play, keeping clear of Manchester on Monday
Resuming on 252 for five, Lancashire made good progress in a first session shortened to just 20 overs by frequent showers, the home batsmen scoring 80 runs for the loss of Tom Smith. whose breezy 44 included eight boundaries. Some of these were very cleanly driven off the slightly wayward Scott Borthwick.
Smith’s 61-ball innings was eventually ended when he drove Chris Rushworth to gully where Calum MacLeod completed a good low catch.
However, Prince had progressed carefully to 83 not out by the break when Lancashire were eight runs in arrears on 332 for six.
The afternoon session was restricted to just 12 overs before very heavy rain-drenched Old Trafford and prevented any play until 4.45pm.
Stephen Parry was dismissed by the ball before the rain arrived when he edged a hook off John Hastings to Phil Mustard, but by that time Parry’s career-best 37 had helped Lancashire take a first-innings lead for only the third time this season.
Prince was 98 not out when the players left the field and the South African completed his third hundred of the season shortly after the restart when he pulled Borthwick to the square leg boundary to reach three figures off 199 balls.
Hastings bowled Prince off the inside edge in the next over but Tom Bailey added a useful 37 with Chapple before he edged Hastings to Mustard.
The Lancashire skipper was bowled by Ben Stokes for 21 four balls later to leave his side with a useful lead and 18 overs left to bowl on the third evening.
Hastings finished with four for 78 and Borthwick took two for 158 from 49 overs, the most overs bowled by a Durham cricketer since 1998.
Lancashire’s bowlers had only the wicket of Stoneman to encourage them in the hour or so of Durham’s second innings but the day ended with Kerrigan and Parry bowling in tandem and close fielders surrounding the batsmen.
There is plenty of work for Durham’s batsmen to do if they are to secure the draw on the final afternoon and they can even harbour hopes of a remarkable win.
“Ashwell waited for the ball in his area but I think we’re in a good position if we can bat for a couple of hours tomorrow,” said John Hastings.
“It’d be nice if we could have a full three sessions because I think we’re set up for a very good day.”
Prince said: “In some ways that was very frustrating having to go out six or seven times but I think in the end we would have taken a lead of 81.
“We would have liked one or two more wickets tonight but it is not easy for the bowlers to get into a rhythm in the sort of wind we had today.”