Essex v Somerset: Leaders battle back to end day two on top

Nick Browne
Nick Browne also top scored in Essex's first innings with 44
Specsavers County Championship Division One, The Cloudfm County Ground (day two):
Essex 159 & 117-3: Browne 66*; C Overton 2-28
Somerset 164: Hildreth 51; Porter 5-40
Essex lead by 112 runs
Essex 3 pts, Somerset 3 pts
Scorecard

Division One leaders Essex enjoyed a fine second day with both bat and ball to put themselves in a strong position against Somerset at Chelmsford.

Mohammad Amir took two wickets in the first over and Jamie Porter finished with 5-40 as Somerset could only make 164 all out from their overnight 118-5.

Essex were 39-3 in their second innings as Dan Lawrence picked up a pair.

But Nick Browne (66 not out) and Adam Wheater (36 not out) took Essex to 117-3, a lead of 112, at an early stumps.

The players were taken off at 16:40 BST, moments before a heavy rain shower and then bad light ended chances of a resumption.

With Wednesday's weather forecast also looking poor, both sides may run out of time to force a positive result, with Essex going for their first county title in 25 years and Somerset battling relegation.

In the play that was possible, Pakistan paceman Amir (2-22) continued his excellent form for the county, producing a fine outswinger with just the second ball of the morning to dismiss nightwatchman Jack Leach.

Four balls later the left-armer knocked out Craig Overton's middle stump for his 14th wicket in his third Championship game.

Seamer Porter and spinner Simon Harmer (2-42) then cleaned up the Somerset first innings before lunch.

Opener Browne, 36 runs away from passing 1,000 first-class runs for the season, made sure Essex did not suffer another batting collapse after their early troubles, reaching his fourth Championship half-century of 2017 in an unbroken stand of 78 with Wheater.

Meanwhile, Essex have confirmed that New Zealand left-arm seamer Neil Wagner will return to the county for their final three Championship matches in place of Amir, who is due back in Pakistan for international duty and is also awaiting the birth of his first child.

Essex opener Nick Browne:

"If they get a few quick wickets in the morning they are in the box seat. We've got to battle it out for a lot more overs yet to stay in this game.

"It ebbed and flowed for me. I wasn't really looking to play good drives, I was just looking to stay in my bubble and have a partnership. I managed to have a good stand with Wheats that sets us up a bit.

"It was a hard-fought knock by him. He definitely needed it and hopefully it will help his confidence a little bit and his determination to get through it."

Somerset director of cricket Matt Maynard:

"The game has moved forward so all results are still possible. But it's probably slightly in Essex's favour now. At the start of play you'd suggest it was just in our favour, but two wickets in the first over changes things.

"Nick Browne and Adam Wheater have had a really good partnership. Nick looks a fine player, very much in the mould of Alastair Cook in terms of his determination.

"He isn't fazed if he faces two or three overs on the bounce without scoring. The next opportunity he gets he'll take. It's a good thing for our guys to watch, the young players especially."