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Tom Abell sets up Somerset for crucial victory

Tom Abell played a captain's innings Getty Images

Yorkshire 320 (Hodd 85, Kohler-Cadmore 81, Davey 5-65) and 8 for 2 need 411 more runs to beat Somerset 399 (Azhar 89, Hildreth 81, Davies 80, Brooks 5-116) and 339 for 7 dec (Abell 132*, Hildreth 72, Gregory 57)
Scorecard

The suspicion is growing that the Championship season is turning sour for Yorkshire and it will take a redoubtable display on the final day at Headingley to challenge the notion. Somerset, playing with a verve that identifies them as Championship contenders, have set them 418 - a victory target they have never achieved - and Lewis Gregory who can currently do no wrong, has already accounted for the openers Harry Brook and Adam Lyth in an eight-over foray before the close.

Brook was bowled cheaply by Gregory for the second time in the match - his promotion to opener, at 19, has not brought immediate rewards - and Lyth was caught at the wicket playing defensively in an uplifting finale for Somerset as they attempt to keep Surrey within binocular range.

As for Yorkshire, Lancashire's win at Southport has left then in the bottom two for the moment (that much is clear, although as usual every table is different while the matches are in progress and frankly life's too short). Next week they go to Trent Bridge to face a Nottinghamshire side expected to give a debut to Ben Duckett, a batsman Yorkshire had also harboured hopes of signing. Such little coincidences don't always turn out well.

Somerset's declaration at 338 for 7 centred upon a first Championship hundred of the season for Tom Abell, who played with poise throughout, and increasingly with dash for 132 not out from 168 balls, in an innings that culminated in 150 runs in 20.1 overs after tea.

Abell's modesty shines through. His growing confidence means he can reflect back on his struggles last season without embarrassment. His average is top side of 40 this season but it is centuries that really put bristles on your cheeks. "I'm quite happy with my season," he said. "I've been contributing in places, but scoring hundreds for Somerset is what I wanted to do as a kid."

Yorkshire's attack was flayed as Somerset rushed towards the declaration despite the unexpected presence of Matt Fisher, who had been suggested as unlikely to bowl in the second innings because of the recurrence of a toe injury that needed stitches during an England Lions series a month ago.

For Fisher, far from fit, to bowl more overs than the fourth seamer, Josh Shaw, questioned the selection of Shaw ahead of either of Yorkshire's two new signings, seamer Mathew Pillans and legspinner Josh Poysden. Pillans has a sound first-class record, despite limited opportunities at Surrey, and, as far as spin is concerned, it would be a surprise if Jack Leach did not find purchase on the final day.

Abell has had a productive time against the Pennines counties this season, taking 82 off Yorkshire earlier this season, making 99 at Old Trafford when he became becalmed in sight of his goal before being pinned in front by Joe Mennie and now a fourth first-class hundred, only three short of his career-best.

There were many good things for Abell to reflect upon, but he might be best advised to remain silent about the two fives he took off David Willey courtesy of overthrows as Yorkshire's fielding deteriorated under pressure in the afternoon. Willey, who removed both Somerset openers, was the most disciplined of Yorkshire's attack, but many more overthrows off his bowling and he could make Medusa just resemble an innocent young thing with a jazzy hairstyle.

Gregory, who shared a stand of 93 in 13 overs, has had an extraordinary week where just about every delivery has felt like a ball he can hit for four. The dynamism that began with his 60 from 24 balls against Nottinghamshire in the Vitality Blast quarter-final at Taunton on Monday has spilled into his Championship season.

Gregory came to Headingley with a grim Championship average around 15 but form can cross formats. Against Yorkshire, in two post-tea sessions, he has punished the old ball so successfully that 122 runs have come from 87 balls, vital in keeping enough time in the game for their rewarding third-evening declaration.

He began with a stunning on drive against Jack Brooks, pulled Fisher with such certainty that he might have played the shot in slow motion and reached his fifty with a six over point. He fell at deep mid-on, another uninhibited blow against Willey. "I've not been in the game very long but never seen anyone striking it as well and as consistently as he is," said Abell. Nice enthusiasm from a captain who knows that the history of the game is not written in a week.

Abell's partner for most of the afternoon had been James Hildreth in a fourth-wicket stand of 135 which recovered Somerset from 29 for 3, a tottering start to their second innings which threatened to destabilise their first-innings lead of 79. Hildreth, who posted 81 first time around, fell for 72, dabbing at a nondescript delivery from the fill-in offspinner Lyth.

Earlier, Somerset's Scotland seamer, Josh Davey, returned a career-best five wickets, but there was no farewell hundred (if indeed it is a farewell) for Andrew Hodd, who added only a single to his overnight 84. Presumably he is saving that for the final day?