Essex on brink of victory

PUBLISHED: 19:11 12 April 2016 | UPDATED: 19:11 12 April 2016

Essex's Jamie Porter (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Essex's Jamie Porter (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire

Dominant third day sets up chance

Essex need just 59 runs, with all of their second innings wickets still intact, to beat Gloucestershire in their opening county championshp match of the season.

They dominated the third day of play at Chelmsford, extending their first innings lead to three figures in the morning session, then dismissing the visitors within 57 overs second time around.

That left Essex needing 93 for victory and nine overs to make a start towards that target.

And South Woodford’s Nick Browne, dismissed for just a single in the first innings, played the lead role to see the hosts to 34-0 at the close, finishing unbeaten on 26 alongside England Test captain and first innings centurion Alastair Cook.

The start of play was delayed by half an hour due to overnight and morning rain, with Essex on 287-6 in reply to Gloucestershire’s 262, and Jesse Ryder fell after only adding two runs to his score as he drove the ball straight to Hamish Marshall.

But Wanstead old boy James Foster and Graham Napier put on 57 in 15 overs for the eighth wicket, although the latter did benefit from two dropped catches in the slips.

Napier fell for 33, from 41 balls, having helped the hosts to their fourth bonus point, with the score on 355 and Foster followed without further addition for a more watchful 34 off 73 deliveries.

But Porter and last man Matt Dixon added a further 30 to ensure Essex took their lead to three figures, before the Australian was dismissed with the score on 385 and the sides took lunch.

And Porter put Essex firmly in the driving seat after the resumption, taking two wickets in two balls in the first over of Gloucestershire’s reply, as Cameron Bancroft and Ian Cockbain edged behind to Foster and fell for ducks.

Dixon struck in his second over to send Chris Dent packing and leave the visitors 8-3, with Porter then sending Marshall’s leg stump out of the ground to claim his third scalp and make it 25-4.

Gloucestershire captain Gareth Roderick, after his unbeaten 88 in the first innings, steadied the ship with Benny Howell, who helped put on 45 before falling to Napier.

And the visitors were still in arrears when Kieran Noema-Barnett became their sixth wicket to fall, trapped leg before by Ravi Bopara shortly before the tea interval.

Roderick continued to defy Essex in the final session, until Napier tempted him to edge one to Alastair Cook at first slip to make it 173-7.

And Bopara bagged his second victim after just eight more runs were added to the total, bowling Josh Shaw for a fifth-ball duck, then tempted Norwell to edge to Tom Westley at second slip moments later.

Jack Taylor launched a late assault to reach his half-century and take Gloucestershire past the 200 mark, hitting successive sixes off Bopara and sending Napier over the ropes twice also, before finally holing out to Porter at deep mid-on and succumbing for 74 off 76 balls.

Scores, Gloucestershire 1st inns 262 (Roderick 88*; Porter 4-59).

Essex 1st inns 385 (Browne 1; Cook 105; Westley 121; Bopara 14; Lawrence 11; Ryder 15; ten Doeschate 4; Foster 34; Napier 33; Porter 20*; Dixon 8; Shaw 4-118; Norwell 3-81).

Gloucestershire 2nd inns 215 (Bancroft 0; Dent 3; Cockbain 0; Roderick 58; Marshall 14; Howell 21; Noema-Barnett 21; Taylor 74; Shaw 0; Norwell 1; Hampton 0*; Porter 15-2-53-3; Dixon 8-3-41-1; Ryder 8-1-31-0; Napier 11.4-3-36-3; Bopara 12-1-49-3; Westley 2-0-4-0).

Essex 2nd inns 34-0 (Cook 4*; Browne 26*).

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