Essex 159 & 8-2 lead Somerset 164 by three runs
Mohammad Amir made a cameo appearance on the second morning at Chelmsford, taking two of the remaining five Somerset wickets to fall before succumbing to a back spasm.
Essex wrapped up Somerset’s innings in 75 minutes for 46 runs to concede a five-run advantage in a low-scoring match between top and second-from-bottom in Division One. By lunch, Essex had moved into the lead by three runs, but at the loss of Varun Chopra and Dan Lawrence in a hostile opening spell by Craig Overton.
Earlier, Jamie Porter finished with five for 40, his third five-wicket haul in the Specsavers County Championship this season, while off-spinner Simon Harmer mopped up the tail to take his summer’s total to 50 Championship wickets.
Amir had bowled 10 indifferent overs on the first day, but struck with the second delivery of the morning. The ball swung in and took the edge of Jack Leach’s bat to give James Foster the catch.
The Pakistan paceman, though, felt his back after bowling the fifth ball and it didn’t look as if he would carry on. However, the final ball of the over was a well-pitched-up, slow yorker that bent back Overton’s middle stump. Somerset were seven down and still the overnight 41 runs adrift.
After on-field treatment, Amir headed to the pavilion, but was back for the third over of the day before disappearing for a longer spell on the physio’s couch.
Porter, who had four of the first five Somerset wickets, claimed his fifth when Steven Davies edged to second slip. Simon Harmer couldn’t hold on, but managed to react and palm the ball to his right where Foster dived forward to take.
Two wickets in four balls by Harmer ended the innings, Groenewald tempted forward to give a catch behind and Paul van Meekeren caught at short leg by Adam Wheater.
In reply, Essex lost Chopra to one from Overton that came back and pinned him lbw and Lawrence to a pair in similar fashion just before the break.