Cricket: Yorkshire's Maharaj leaves Somerset in a spin
PUBLISHED: 19:47 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:47 10 September 2019
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Yorkshire left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj proved the scourge of Somerset once again as 13 wickets fell on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton.
The 29-year-old South African's figures of 5-54 in the hosts' first innings total of 199 means he has taken 26 wickets against them in five innings at an average of 10.88.
Only Tom Abell (66) and Jamie Overton (40 not out) showed much resistance and by the close, Yorkshire were 129 behind on 70-3, with Gary Ballance making 35 and Adam Lyth passing 10,000 first-class runs for the county in contributing 21.
It was the Yorkshire seamers who did the early damage after an uncontested toss.
The tone was set for a poor batting display when Steve Davies played a loose shot to be caught at point off Steve Patterson with the total on 18.
Murali Vijay looked solid in batting through the first hour of his Somerset debut, but having made only seven, he edged a back of a length ball from Duanne Olivier and departed caught behind.
Olivier quickly followed up by bowling James Hildreth between bat and pad. When Tom Banton was caught at second slip off Tim Bresnan the home side were in trouble at 46 for four.
Abell, promoted above Hildreth to bat at three, looked calmly in control as he and George Bartlett took the total to 70 by lunch. But the second ball after the interval saw Bartlett recklessly attempt a reverse sweep off Maharaj, directing the ball straight to Lyth at slip.
It was a huge error in the circumstances. Lewis Gregory could contribute only a brisk 12 before being caught behind by Jonathan Tattersall, standing up to the stumps to Ben Coad, and Somerset were 85-6.
Having taken his first wicket, Maharaj, who quickly found some turn from the River End, set about polishing off the tail, tempting Dom Bess to drive a catch to short cover and dismissing Roelof Van Der Merwe lbw pushing forward.
But Abell had gone to an excellent half-century off 124 balls, with seven fours, and from 148 for eight, he and Jamie Overton, who had been awarded his county cap during the lunch interval, added 51 to take Somerset to within one run of a batting point.
They failed to achieve it as the accurate Maharaj gained lbw verdicts against Abell and last man Josh Davey in the space of three balls.
Abell had faced 193 balls and hit eight fours, while unbeaten Overton's run-a-ball innings featured six boundaries.
If Somerset fail to win the County Championship for the first time this summer, it will be because of the frailty of their top order batting, which was again apparent.
Soon Yorkshire were struggling too, as Will Fraine nicked a catch behind off Gregory.
Davey induced a similar error from Lyth, but not before he had hit two sixes - the first off a top-edge and the second sweetly-timed over mid-wicket to bring up 10,000 first-class runs for his county.
From 27-2, Ballance and Tom Kohler-Cadmore batted sensibly in the early evening sunshine until Ballance fell lbw to off-spinner Bess in the penultimate over.
It was a huge breakthrough for a Somerset side pressing to win a first ever Championship against opponents not entirely out of the title race themselves.