Durham need a further 46 runs whilst Somerset need five wickets after another exciting day of Specsavers County Championship cricket at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Chasing 176 to win the visitors reached 130 for five at the close.
It has been a remarkable game during which Durham’s seamers have taken 18 of the 20 Somerset wickets to fall and the Somerset spinners, Roelof van der Merwe and Jack Leach have helped themselves to all but three of the 15 Durham wickets to tumble.
After an opening day during which 17 wickets had fallen, the second day began with Durham resuming their first innings on 154 for seven. They lost Mark Wood and Chris Rushworth to Leach and van der Merwe respectively before Graham Onions was trapped lbw to Leach at 180 all out.
Trailing by only five on first innings Somerset sensed an opportunity to build a big enough lead to put serious pressure on Durham in the game’s fourth and final innings. However, it was not to be. They lost Marcus Trescothick, Chris Rogers and Tom Abell without scoring as Durham reduced their hosts to 0 for three.
James Hildreth managed eight before he was snapped up by Onions at 21 for four and when Peter Trego was trapped leg before by the former England seamer, Somerset were staring down the barrel. Unfortunately for Somerset it got worse before it got better with Jim Allenby, who looked relatively comfortable in reaching 15, becoming Wood’s first scalp of the day at 33 for six.
Craig Overton and van der Merwe showed what fighting spirit can achieve either side of lunch as the pair added 72 for the seventh wicket before van der Merwe was finally out, three short of his half century at 105 for 7. Thirteen runs later Overton was yorked by a decent ball from Adam Hickey and Leach followed in similar fashion, this time off the bowling of Wood.
Wicket keeper Ryan Davies, one of the shining lights with the bat in the first innings, played with great guts and gusto and with Tim Groenewald put on 52 for the final wicket. Davies looked an odds on certainty to reach his 50 when he chipped a Hickey delivery to mid-wicket.
Having capitulated to the spinners in their first innings, Durham lost two early wickets to seamer Overton, at one for one and 19 for two. Keaton Jennings departed without scoring whilst Scott Borthwick pulled a short ball to James Hildreth at mid on.
Michael Richardson (33) and Mark Stoneman were separated at 88 for three when the former was adjudged lbw off the bowling of Jack Leach and Stoneman (57) followed at 118 for four when van der Merwe found a way through the left handers defence.
Somerset kept themselves in the hunt by taking the wicket of Gordon Muchall (17) and when the clock ticked on to six o’clock, the visitors were 130 for five.
After the match Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “It was one of those mornings when every good ball got the edge and the boys were got out by good deliveries. From 30 for six to still be in the game this evening is a great effort from our lower middle order. It’s been an absorbing game of cricket and full credit to them because I think that they have utilized the new ball brilliantly especially in the second innings.
“We knew that their spinners weren’t as threatening as ours but their seamers have got a lot more out of this wicket than we were hoping they would. It’s been a thrilling game and if we had another 40 runs to play with then I’d be delighted, but anything can happen tomorrow morning. If we get one or two early on then you just never know, so we have still got an opportunity.”
“I thought the lads fought really well in the last session and the way that Ryan Davies, Roelof van der Merwe, Craig Overton and Tim Groenewald batted at the end gave us something to bowl at, and then to come out and give everything with the ball is fantastic to see.”
Looking ahead Matt said: “Tomorrow’s a different day. We need a good start and need to get a couple of quick wickets to put a bit of pressure on them.”