Worcestershire 202 and 203 for 5 v Lancashire 282 and 248
Three wickets for Gary Keedy in the final session of the day has left Lancashire the strong favourites to complete a vital victory over Worcestershire in their County Championship match at Blackpool.
Needing to score 329 to record their fourth Division One triumph of the season, the visitors will head into the fourth day on 203 for 5 - needing another 126 runs to win with half their wickets in hand. However, the best performance of the day was that of Vikram Solanki, whose 175-ball 107 has given his side a slim chance of achieving their fourth Championship win of the season.
The Worcestershire batsman was eventually caught at slip by Paul Horton off Keedy's bowling near the end of a crucial spell which also saw the departure of Alexei Kervezee caught by Steven Croft at short leg when the ball rebounded off the pads of wicketkeeper Gareth Cross.
The visitors' pursuit of what seemed a distant target got off to a poor start when Matt Pardoe's loose drive only edged a Glen Chapple delivery to Tom Smith in the third over of the innings. However, Daryl Mitchell and Solanki ensured that Chapple's bowlers made no further breakthroughs with the new ball as they put on 62 runs for the second wicket in just over 20 overs.
Mitchell departed when he was plumb lbw to Chapple for 22, the ball keeping rather low, but Solanki and Moeen Ali had added a further 49 runs by tea, when Worcestershire were 116 for two, Solanki having reached his fifty off 69 balls. Ali went on the counter-attack against Keedy after tea but lost his wicket to the spinner for 47 when Croft dived forward to take a good catch at short leg.
In the morning session Lancashire added 81 runs to their overnight total for the loss of their last seven second-innings wickets. All of Worcestershire's seamers enjoyed operating on the helpful Stanley Park pitch, Gareth Andrew bagging three more wickets to finish with 5 for 59 and Richard Jones removing Cross, Kyle Hogg and Karl Brown to take 3 for 70.
Bowling from the South End, Andrew posed problems for all the batsmen and only Brown played him with much comfort. Lancashire's 23-year-old number three batted carefully to add 30 runs to his overnight score and had made 85 off 147 balls when he skyed Jones to Solanki, who took a good catch running back from slip.
Apart from Brown, Croft was the only Lancashire batsman to be dismissed in double figures today - he was lbw to Andrew immediately after reaching a 91-ball fifty.