Derbyshire 345 and 5 for 0 trail Gloucestershire 242 and 403 by 295 runs
Gloucestershire's batsmen hit back strongly to set Derbyshire a testing target at Derby despite suffering another attack of the nervous nineties in their County Championship Division Two encounter. The visitors took advantage of some wayward bowling to score 403 which left the home side to make 301 and when bad light ended play early, they were 5 without loss.
The big disappointment for Gloucestershire was Chris Dent's dismissal for 98 - the fifth time this season their batsmen have been out in the nineties - but they will fancy their chances of forcing victory on the last day. That was not the case going into the third morning which started with Derbyshire physio Jamie Pipe keeping wicket in place of Tom Poynton who came down with a bug.
Pipe was on the field for the first half hour while Lee Goddard drove back from a second team game in Cardiff to become the fifth wicketkeeper used in the match.
Nightwatchman Steve Kirby proved an annoyance for Derbyshire, staying at the crease for nearly an hour and helping Kadeer Ali take his team to within one run of wiping out the home side's 103-run lead before he flashed wildly at Tim Groenewald. When Kadeer aimed a pull at Groenewald and was caught at point off a glove for 74, Gloucestershire were only 22 runs ahead with three wickets down but poor bowling allowed the visitors to get away.
The balance of power shifted between lunch and tea when Gloucestershire's middle order feasted on a ripe assortment of half volleys to score 173 runs in the session. Dent completed his maiden first-class fifty off only 41 balls, driving Robin Peterson for six and pulling Atif Sheikh over the square leg boundary before his attacking instincts cost him a hundred.
Derbyshire had baited the trap with three fielders back for the pull and the 19-year-old fell into it when he lofted Sheikh into Peterson's hands at deep midwicket. Dent had scored 68 of his runs in boundaries and had faced only 85 balls but his reckless dismissal leaves Gloucestershire without a Championship century this season.
Gloucestershire were only 178 runs ahead at that stage but Alex Gidman, James Franklin and Jon Lewis made sure their bowlers would have a decent total to defend.
Gidman scored 42 from 58 balls, Franklin made 37 and Lewis plundered a rapid 34 off only 26 balls before Tom Lungley and Greg Smith took the last three wickets in four overs. That left Derbyshire with 17 overs before the close but light drizzle delayed the start of their innings and conditions were distinctly murky when Chris Rogers and Wayne Madsen started the chase.
Rogers had scored five before the umpires took the players off the field and the Australian, who scored a century in the first innings, is likely to be the key figure in Derbyshire's pursuit of the 296 runs they need to win the game.
Gloucs vs Derbyshire
England Domestic Season
County Championship Division Two