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Keshav Maharaj’s fabulous seven-wicket haul in the first innings strengthened Yorkshire’s grip on their Specsavers County Championship clash with leaders Somerset at Emerald Headingley, with a fourth win of the season in the offing.

Maharaj’s 7-52 from 26.3 overs, including six wickets in the first half of day three, forced the Taunton county to follow-on 324 runs behind replying to 520.

Somerset slipped from 76-4 overnight to 196 all out in the early stages of the afternoon.

The visitors later closed on 159-4 from 57 overs of their second innings.

Maharaj’s seven-for has come in the final appearance of his initial three-game overseas stint with the White Rose, although the deal could be extended for the remainder of the Championship campaign, which resumes next month after a break for the early stages of the T20 Blast.

This was a day of two halves. Yorkshire dominated the first half and Somerset had the better of the second to ensure the hosts still have work to do.

Maharaj started by recording his second seven-wicket haul against Somerset in as many Championship matches. Last September, he picked up 7-37 in a tied game against them at Taunton whilst playing for Lancashire.

This was also Yorkshire’s first seven-wicket haul since Ryan Sidebottom claimed 7-44 against Middlesex at Scarborough in July of the 2014 Championship-winning year.

Jamie Overton’s 52 not out included three sixes and was Somerset’s standout performance in a first innings which started badly after tea on day two – they resumed on 76-4 overnight – and did not recover.

Maharaj started by trapping James Hildreth (37) lbw in the day’s fifth over as Somerset fell to 85-5 in the 36th. In the 40th, he removed Dom Bess via the same method.

Craig Overton was bowled in his next over – 103-7 in the 42nd – before Steve Davies (37) and Jamie Overton held the hosts up by adding 35 inside 14 overs.

After Overton hit Maharaj for two sixes down the ground, Davies edged to Adam Lyth at slip as the left-armer claimed his fifth wicket – 138-8 in the 56th over.

Overton reached his fifty off 66 balls shortly after lunch, but Tim Groenewald was trapped lbw in the 66th as the visitors fell to 182-9, ending a 44-run partnership – the highest of the innings.

And when Jack Brooks edged to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at second slip in Maharaj’s next over, Somerset were forced to bat again.

Tom Abell and Azhar Ali then shared only Somerset’s second opening partnership of 50 or more in Division One this season, 89 inside 31 overs either side of tea.

But the White Rose made inroads with three wickets for 12 inside five overs in the first half of the evening as Somerset fell to 101-3 in the 35th.

Matthew Fisher broke through by trapping Ali (41) before Hildreth tried to go over the top against Maharaj and only picked out Steve Patterson at mid-off – 94-2 in the 32nd.

Fisher then struck again when Abell, for 53 off 105 balls with 11 fours, was squared up by one which nipped away and edged behind to Jonny Tattersall.

Highly-rated youngster Tom Banton pulled Olivier for three boundaries in one over on the way to an unbeaten 58 off 75 balls.

But he saw George Bartlett edge Maharaj to Lyth at slip as the score fell to 148-4 in the 52nd over, the 29-year-old claiming his eighth wicket of the day.

What they said

Yorkshire’s Keshav Maharaj

“Coming out from doing nothing besides fitness in our off-season back home, I think I’ve surprised myself.

“But the wickets have assisted me and the dividends are paying out now.

“My game plan is simple. I’m trying to stop the game. If I pick up wickets as well, so be it.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here. They are a very welcoming county. I will most likely be coming back in the latter part to hopefully finish off the season.

“We’re in a good position in the game. Hopefully we can finish it off tomorrow and claim the win.”

Somerset’s Jamie Overton

“It was tricky (batting against Maharaj). Some were spinning, some weren’t. You didn’t really know what it was going to do.

“I stuck to my method, and it seemed to work. Hopefully I can do it in the second innings for a bit longer. I just to tried to stay leg-side of it and keep my pads out of the way because the dangerous ball is the one that’s going to get you lbw. I was also trying to score because if you sit in there’s always one with your name on it.

“We’re going alright in the second innings. We’d have like either Tom (Abell) or Azhar (Ali) to still be there. But Tom Banton’s come in and played one of his effortless knocks.

“Hopefully he can bat all day and we can chip in around him.

“I think we can save it. We have definitely got the capability with the bat. We have a lot of batting left.”

An image of Lauren Winfield-Hill and Adil Rashid, with the Yorkshire logo and Northern Diamonds logo in the middle

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