Rain restricts Essex progress

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Matt Walker had reached 36 not out when rain intervened and threatened to undermine Essex's chances of victory

Essex’s bid for a second LV= County Championship win of the season was hampered by rain at Old Trafford today.

In their attempts to avenge Lancashire’s early-season win at Chelmsford, the visitors had gained a lead of 278 when weather forced the players off the field at 3pm on day three.

Matt Walker and Ryan ten Doeschate were in the midst of an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership, adding 49 and taking their side’s second-innings total to 155 for four in the 63rd over.

Captain Mark Pettini would have hoped for an hour’s bowling before the close, but instead his batsmen will probably have to return to the crease in the search for quick runs tomorrow.

There is still time for Essex to force a win, but Lancashire will be a lot happier than they would have been overnight.

The home side claimed only three wickets in the 49.2 overs possible, but Essex added just 129 runs, with 46 runs from 29 overs in the morning session.

Ravi Bopara, playing his first championship match of the summer, looked completely out of sorts during his 53-ball innings of five.

Opener Jaik Mickleburgh made his way to 64 off 146 balls, including seven fours, but he was run out by Steven Croft from cover during the shortened afternoon session.

Kyle Hogg took Lancashire’s first wicket of the day – his second of the innings – when he had nightwatchman Chris Wright caught behind by Luke Sutton for eight.

Bopara then edged former West Indies pace bowler Daren Powell to Paul Horton at first slip to leave Essex 61 for three.

Essex looked at their most positive when Walker and ten Doeschate, who hit 85 in the first innings, came together, and the latter even planted Hogg over midwicket for six on the way to 31 not out off just 30 balls.

When the rain arrived left-handed Walker had reached 36 off 85 balls.

Meanwhile, Andrew Flintoff batted in the nets at Old Trafford for around half an hour this morning as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.

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