Nottinghamshire 112 for 0 and 134 (Taylor 74, Overton 4-53) trail Somerset 392 (Davies 92*, Carter 5-113) by 146 runs
Nottinghamshire and Somerset occupy the top two places in the Championship, but billing this encounter as a Championship decider does not ring true. Somerset's challenge can be sustained deep into the season, encouraging expectations that their first Championship title is a possibility, but Notts do not suggest the stuff of champions.
That view was only encouraged by events on the second day at Taunton when Nottinghamshire responded to Somerset's 392 by collapsing to 134 all out in 37.1 overs. Some stability was restored when they made 112 for 0 following on in a truncated final session, but a deficit of 146 still looks likely to translate into eventual defeat.
There is no cause to cavil over Tom Abell's decision to insert Nottinghamshire for a second time, even if there have already been fleeting signs of turn and Matt Carter, who took 10 in the match on debut on this ground, has already added another five as Somerset extended their first innings to 392 before lunch, suggesting he could be a tough proposition in an awkward fourth-innings chase.
Notts' first innings had only spanned 37.4 overs so exhaustion didn't come into it, but there were few alarms in the 30 overs which followed as Steven Mullaney, a captain who will lead England Lions later this month, and Jake Libby summoned comfortable resistance.
To turn this around, though, would challenge not just the match situation, but a habit of more than 30 years. Nottinghamshire have a terrible record at Taunton, with six draws and 10 defeats since their last Championship win here in 1985.
Nottinghamshire arrived at Taunton with exalted status - seven points ahead of Somerset, who lie second with a match in hand with a match in hand, with Surrey a further two points distant in third. Three early-season wins were sourced from excellent early-season bowling in favourable conditions, but it would take a substantial batting improvement to maintain such promise.
"We can't get ahead of ourselves," said one Somerset sage to a mate over lunch. How many summers have they watched in the hope that a first Championship would arrive at Taunton only for their bounty to be lost even as the Quantocks in the distance were transformed into the colours of harvest time?
Without the contribution from Ross Taylor, their New Zealand batsman, Notts would really have been in a pickle. Taylor made 74 from 89 balls, a shrewd counter-attacking innings which reached its maximum ambition at nine down when he hoisted three legside sixes in an over off Craig Overton, one of them mighty enough to disturb residents on the balconies of the adjacent flats. Considering that a letter of complaint was once received about the unsightliness of the new outfield drainage, further missives could already be on their way.
Overton, despite that over, had a decent day, bowling at the upper range of his pace and aggression, as if in what seems to be the perpetual absence of his faster twin brother, who is searching for fitness and rhythm, he is trying to fulfil both roles at once. Twins can do strange things.
Either side of lunch Overton produced an inspired spell from the River End, which saw him take three wickets for four runs in his first three overs. Libby fell to an excellent ball which left him and Mullaney was lbw to one which jagged back. Soon after lunch, Samit Patel also fell for nought to one that swung back. In all, there were four ducks in the top six as Lewis Gregory sent Chris Nash and Riki Wessels packing without scoring, both trusting unwisely to the back foot.
Worse could have resulted from 28 for five as Abell missed the stumps with a chance to run out Tom Moores and Taylor, on 14, survived a good lbw shout from Gregory. Taylor played with gusto thereafter and, even when he ran out Carter, trying to keep the strike, it just irked him into that final six-hitting assault.