Hassan Ali stars with six-wicket haul
Hassan Ali led a great Lancashire fightback on the opening day of this LV= Insurance County Championship clash after Gloucestershire had stunned the hosts with an unbeaten pre-lunch century partnership.
The Pakistan international took a sensational 6-47 as the Red Rose fought their way back into the game through the afternoon and evening sessions taking all ten wickets for 133 runs after Chris Dent and Marcus Harris had posted 119 for the first wicket.
The visitors’ opening pair had made the most of a good batting track after captain Graeme van Buuren called correctly at the toss, making a steady start in the face of some probing bowling from the international trio of James Anderson, Hassan Ali and Saqib Mahmood.
But Lancastrian hopes of an early clatter of wickets went unanswered as Dent and Harris defended through the first hour and prospered in the second with some lovely attacking shots, Harris lofting Matt Parkinson for six over long-off as the runs started to flow.
The only moments of real alarm for the visitors came when Aussie opener Harris inside edged Mahmood to fine leg for four and Dent survived a big appeal for lbw from Hassan, but the pair accelerated well in the final hour up to lunch posting their century partnership in the last over of the morning.
The afternoon session could hardly have been more of a contrast as Lancashire hit back by taking six wickets for 31 runs in a spell of just over 20 overs.
It was Hassan who made the breakthrough when Dent on 52 edged to second slip where Steven Croft took an excellent juggling catch to break the opening partnership at 119 in the 38th over.
Harris soon followed for 67 when he glanced at a Mahmood delivering down the leg side that was well taken by wicketkeeper Phil Salt and George Balderson bowled James Bracey for 5.
Van Buuren and Miles Hammond were then tied down by some accurate Red Rose bowling, adding just 9 runs in 50 minutes before the pressure took its toll.
Van Buuren gloved a pull down the leg side off Mahmood to Salt for 4 before Hassan returned to take two wickets in two balls; Hammond edging a swish behind to Salt for 9 and Tom Lace lbw first ball to leave Gloucestershire on 150-6.
Ryan Higgins and Zafar Gohar settled matters to reach tea on 170-6 before extending their partnership to 65 during the final session as this day took yet another twist.
But Lancashire claimed the final four wickets late in the day starting with Zafar who had batted steadily to reach 27 before he had a wild swipe at Parkinson and was stumped by Salt, his maiden first-class stumping.
Hassan returned to bowl Josh Shaw for 18 and then have Ajeet Singh Dale caught at point by Josh Bohannon for 4 to complete a marvelous performance with figures of 6-47.
Ryan Higgins, who has a century to his name already this season, was left 51 not out with Gloucestershire 252 all out.
Lancashire had six overs to bat but lost Balderson for 4 in the final over to a run out from a direct hit thrown by Zafar to finish on 11-1, 241 runs behind.
Hassan Ali was a happy man at the close of play after his six-wicket performance on his home debut for Lancashire.
“I really enjoyed that,” he said. “Getting a five-for in the County Championship is a great moment for me.”
“It’s also good for the team. We made a plan to keep it simple and as a bowling unit we did that and succeeded.
“If you keep patient you will get rewards (on this wicket). We did that and kept trying to bowl in the right areas. “The first session wasn’t good enough for us but you can see we (eventually) got a lot of wickets.
“A five-for is pretty special for me. And when you come off and the great Jimmy Anderson is clapping for me, that’s a great moment for me, he’s showing his appreciation of him.
“I was a bit nervous (to be sharing the bowling with Jimmy),” admitted Hassan. “But he was supporting me and backing me so it was nice.”
Hassan was philosophical about getting six wickets while Anderson went wicketless today.
“Sometimes you bowl really well and don’t get wickets,” he said. “That’s cricket.”
“We’ve got a brilliant bowling attack (here) and I’m enjoying playing with them.
Hassan grinned when asked about his pretty dynamic wicket celebration.
“Cricket is a long game so I thought I’m going to give something for the crowd and my team mates,” I explained.
“They tell me it gives them a lot of energy! The crowd enjoy it too so I’m happy to keep doing it.”
Hopefully it’s a celebration we will see a lot more of the coming weeks.
Photos: George Franks