Nottinghamshire were indebted to an unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 57 between Ajmal Shahzad and Luke Fletcher, to reach stumps on 327 for eight after the first day of their LV= County Championship match against Somerset at Taunton.
Shahzad (35 not out) and Fletcher (30 not out) safely negotiated the final 13.4 overs of the day to lift Notts towards a par total on a decent wicket.
Earlier, Steven Mullaney (75) and David Hussey (68) had provided the only scores of substance from the top order, although everyone bar Samit Patel made it into double figures.
“I thought we were getting into a decent position, and I felt in control, so I was very disappointed to get out when I did and not go on and make a big hundred.” Steven Mullaney
For Mullaney, it was bitter-sweet to get out with another century in sight.
“I was obviously happy to get through another new ball,” he revealed.
“I thought we were getting into a decent position, and I felt in control, so I was very disappointed to get out when I did and not go on and make a big hundred.”
His score again justified the decision to promote Mullaney to the top of the order. “I keep saying to people, look at what happens if I do it in April and May next year. So far we’ve been to some good places and I’ve batted on good wickets. I’m sure there will be tough times ahead.”
The 26-year old emphasised that the players were very much concentrating on red ball cricket this week. “This is a massive game for us and we know it. If we can win it lifts us well clear of the relegation zone and we could still be looking towards the top three with a good finish.”
After Chris Read had won the toss and opted to bat, Alex Hales and Mullaney put on 31 together for the first wicket inside the opening half hour.
Mullaney’s first boundary had been an eye-catching straight drive off Peter Trego, with Hales pulling Steve Kirby for his first four before punching the same bowler to the cover fence.
Trego conjured up the initial breakthrough, as Hales (20) nudged an away-swinger through to ‘keeper Craig Kieswetter.
Michael Lumb (16) also looked in good order but a stunning one-handed catch by Marcus Trecothick ended his stay, off the bowling of Craig Meschede.
Having been marooned on just eleven, after Hales’ dismissal, Mullaney kicked on in the final half hour before lunch, reaching the interval on 48 not out.
The opener’s first run of the afternoon was a scratchy inside-edge down to fine leg but he then hit George Dockrell for a one-bounce four to reach his fifty (107 balls 9x4).
Mullaney celebrated by then heaving the spinner away over the midwicket ropes for the first of his two sixes.
James Taylor (19) needed to get to 22 to reach 1,000 first class runs for the season but was three runs shy when he tickled Jamie Overton down the leg side.
The blow was nearly made worse when Mullaney lofted Dockrell to mid off but Overton spilled the chance.
Despite the ‘life’, it proved to be short-lived as Overton then achieved pay-back by inducing the former Lancashire man into nibbling at one outside his off stump.
David Hussey attacked Dockrell at every opportunity, hitting him for a six in an over that went for 13 and then beginning his next with back-to back boundaries.
Chris Read (25) put on 64 with the Australian but then fell to a stunning catch by Nick Compton at short extra cover.
Hussey had reached his fifty (73 balls, 9x4, 1x6) and pressed the booster button with four boundaries in quick succession before being struck on the hand by a high beamer from Overton’s returning delivery.
The following over he drilled one straight back to Dockrell for a fine and caught and bowled, to depart for 68.
Andre Adams made 20 at a run-a-ball but then hit the fourth delivery of the second new ball down long-on’s throat, bringing Shahzad and Fletcher together at 270-8.
Shahzad had already shown his intentions by getting off the mark with a huge six. His second maximum saw the new ball plonked into the River Tone after just 28 deliveries with it.
Umpire Tim Robinson took another new ball, borrowed Fletcher’s bat and briefly ‘knocked’ it in before waving play on.
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