England opener Alastair Cook’s half-century left Lancashire’s Specsavers County Championship Division One match against Essex at Emirates Old Trafford evenly poised.
The left-hander posted 58 as the visitors responded to Lancashire’s first-innings 301 with 221-6 from 60.1 overs.
Australian overseas seamer Joe Mennie was the pick of the home bowling with 3-40 from 16.1 overs, including 3-8 in 23 balls shortly after lunch.
Rain wiped out all but seven balls of the evening session, and Essex will begin day three 80 runs in arrears.
The day started with Lancashire advancing from 297-9 overnight to gain a third batting bonus point before Tom Bailey (38) found deep square-leg to hand Simon Harmer his third wicket.
Champions Essex then made confident progress through to lunch, reaching 114-1, although they had to navigate some probing home bowling.
Cook hit 10 fours in his 102-ball stay, but he benefited from a Haseeb Hameed drop at first slip off Graham Onions, who had earlier uprooted Varun Chopra’s off-stump.
Cook and Tom Westley (41) shared 110 inside 24 overs either side of lunch to recover from 9-1.
But the visitors endured a horrible start to the afternoon as swing aided the Red Rose under increasingly cloudy skies.
They lost four wickets for 11 runs to slip from 119-1 to 130-5, with Mennie striking three times.
He had Cook edging behind before yorking Westley and getting Ravi Bopara caught at second slip.
Sandwiched inbetween, Onions trapped Dan Lawrence LBW as he stepped across his stumps.
Essex then recovered through their captain Ryan ten Doeschate and Adam Wheater, who shared 81 through the second half of the afternoon to take their side beyond 200.
However, their alliance was broken by sharp work from behind the stumps by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas.
Ten Doeschate tried to pinch his 44th run to short cover only for Vilas to retrieve the ball and athletically throw the stumps down at the non-striker’s end, leaving Essex at 211-6 in the 56th.
Only five minutes of play took place after tea as a heavy rain shower hung around for much longer than anticipated.
Play was finally abandoned at 5.30pm, leaving Wheater unbeaten on 31 and Harmer on seven.