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David Lloyd at Taunton
September 5, 2013
Derbyshire 298 and 127 for 4 (Slater 59) require another 117 runs to beat Somerset 103 and 438 (Compton 95, Gregory 52)
Derbyshire are within believing distance, just about, of claiming a third victory in four matches after another day of high entertainment and, for a time at least, high farce involving Somerset wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.
The side that just about everybody had written off as relegation certainties before their back-to-back victories over Sussex and Middlesex need another 117 runs to move above their equally anxious hosts and out of the bottom two.
Crucially, perhaps, Shivnarine Chanderpaul remains unbeaten. The veteran left-hander has not enjoyed a vintage season, by any means, but if he can take Derbyshire across the winning line here than most of the county's followers will forget he is averaging below 40.
Defeat for Somerset, of course, would be a desperate blow for an outfit that was expected to occupy its accustomed place near the top of the table - and throw into even sharper focus the performance of Kieswetter during this match.
Two horrible dismissals have not helped the home cause. But it was his performance behind the stumps this evening that had most on-lookers shaking their heads in disbelief.
Having conceded 18 byes during Derbyshire's first innings, the now former England one-day keeper had a nightmare few overs while standing up to Piyush Chawla. In one over alone, Kieswetter conceded nine byes - two sets of four and a single - as the leg-pinner turned the ball sharply from outside the off stump of two left-handed batsmen and down leg-side.
Conditions, with the ball continuing to turn and bounce, were clearly awkward for 25-year-old Kieswetter, who has generally kept wicket in the Championship side ahead of another the man preferred to him in England's one-day sides, Jos Buttler. But he struggled horribly and resorted to not only setting up outside leg stump but also, on at least one occasion, taking a full step back from the stumps.
Kieswetter, with 71 England appearances to his name, also had his problems keeping to slow left-armer Jack Leach, but it was Chawla who gave him most difficulty as he let through a total of 22 byes - a potentially crucial number in this tight contest.
Significantly, Chawla came out of the attack for 10 overs when there seemed absolutely no tactical reason for his removal. Thankfully for Kieswetter, Chawla quickly dismissed one left-hander - opener Ben Slater - on his return and the arrival of right-handed nightwatchman Tony Palladino made life easier behind the stumps.
Even so, when Chanderpaul was on strike home captain Marcus Trescothick posted a fine leg who was so fine that he would be called a long stop lower down the cricketing ladder.
Still, despite all this Somerset are by no means out of the contest. The removal of Palladino - snicking Chawla to slip - off what became the last ball of the day removed one irritant. And if Chanderpaul goes early on the final morning them the balance of power will tilt firmly away from the visitors.
Chawla is Somerset's most obvious matchwinner. But Leach, appearing in only his eighth first-class match, has also taken two wickets so far and has a big part to play.
"Derbyshire may feel comfortable but they are probably twitchy as well," said Nick Compton, who top-scored for the hosts and had sympathy for Kieswetter. "It's difficult when the ball is turning as much as it was."
Somerset had added 207 for their last six wickets which, if not beyond their wildest dreams, certainly exceeded the expectations of most home supporters at start of play.
The middle and lower order made the most of the situation, especially after Compton - the rock they all hoped to bat around - was the first victim of the day. Having looked set for his third Championship century of the season, he played on when trying to force Palladino off the back foot.
Thereafter, a maiden first-class half-century from Lewis Gregory plus decidedly handy contributions from Craig Meschede and No. 11 Leach kept Derbyshire waiting much longer than they had hoped to begin their chase.
But none of that seemed to matter much while openers Slater - with an excellent 59 - and Paul Borrington were slowly but surely knocking 49 from the target. But once Borrington and Wayne Madsen went, the spotlight shifted onto Somerset's spinners and, unfortunately for Kieswetter, onto the man behind the stumps.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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