Nottinghamshire overcame the loss of a crucial toss to post 270-9 when bad light stopped play after 86.4 overs on the opening day of the new season, against Lancashire at Trent Bridge.
In seamer-friendly conditions the home side battled hard, having been put in – and recovered from 20-3, thanks to a high-quality innings of 93 from Samit Patel, with useful support provided by Alex Hales and Riki Wessels.
James Anderson was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors, ending the day with figures of five for 54, his seventh 5-wicket haul at Trent Bridge.
Patel, understandably, was delighted to begin the season with some useful runs. “It was tough out there,” he said. “To lose the toss and be put in under those conditions we had to graft hard but that’s the nature of the game. You’ve got to do it to succeed.”
The 29 year old paid tribute to Lancashire’s spearhead. “Anderson is a world class bowler, he’s done against all countries, in all conditions but today was my day. They were great efforts from Riki (Wessels) and Alex (Hales) though, because partnerships are crucial in games like these.
“I’d take 270 all day on there, I think it’s definitely our day – we’re very much in the contest now with that score and if the last pair can add a few more, even better, then we’re looking to have a crack at them and put them under pressure.”
At the toss it was revealed that Andre Adams had sustained a calf injury in training and would miss the match, along with James Taylor, Ajmal Shahzad and Peter Siddle, who had already been ruled out.
The misfortune of others enabled Jake Ball to come into the side for his maiden championship match, having played just three first class fixtures beforehand.
Witht he floodlights on from the start Nottinghamshire struggled in typical early-season conditions, having been put in. The new opening combination of Steven Mullaney and Phil Jaques were quickly parted.
Mullaney (3) should have fallen without scoring, put down by Wayne White at point off Kabir Ali. The same bowler exacted swift revenge by yorking the former Lancashire man.
Jaques (10) scored from the first ball he received in Notts colours and thren punched Ali for two boundaries through the legside before nicking James Anderson to Paul Horton at slip.
Michael Lumb (4) also fell to Anderson, although can consider himself very unlucky after an inside-edge ricocheted back onto the off stump.
Samit Patel and Riki Wessels began their stand 45 minutes into the new season and by lunch had added 50 together from 109 deliveries.
Wessels pulled Ali away for the first six of the new season in the 34th over and hit his next delivery straight down the ground for four before becoming Anderson’s third victim.
The England international, who has taken six 5-wicket Test hauls at Trent Bridge proved his liking for the ground with a wonderful full-length delivery that uprooted two of Wessels’ (39) stumps.
Alex Hales, in the unfamiliar position of six in the order, began cautiously but offered stoic support to Patel throughout the remainder of the session. Rotating the strike, taking singles and punishing width, Hales blossomed as the afternoon wore on and looked to be back to his red ball best.
Patel, meanwhile, had hit the second maximum of the day, helping Wayne White over the fence at long leg to bring up his half century (116 balls 5x4 1x6).
Quickening his run-rate he was unbeaten on 91 at the tea interval, with Notts on 197-4.
Two wickets for Wayne White brought Lancashire back into things shortly after the resumption. Patel fenced at a legside delivery and feathered one through to ‘keeper Alex Davies and then Chris Read (10) was emphatically bowled.
Hales’ half century (111 balls 9x4) was deserved reward for an innings of huge concentration but he and Luke Fletcher both succumbed to the4 second new ball.
Fletcher (14) looked comfortable and played some attractive strokes before edging Anderson behind and then the same bowler found the outside edge of Hales’ (61) bat and Horton took his second slip catch of the day.
Ball (10)was bowled by Kabir Ali, leaving Andy Carter (9 not out) and Harry Gurney (0 not out) to battle through the gloom – Carter, in particular, taking a few blows to the body before bad light stopped play.