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    Walter and Critchley saved Essex, reversing the situation against Notts
Walter and Critchley saved Essex, reversing the situation against Notts
Paul Walter led the fightback in a stand of 132 with Matt Critchley. Source: Getty Images

Walter and Critchley saved Essex, reversing the situation against Notts

Nottinghamshire are expected to chase a target of over 300 on the final day of their Vitality County Championship match against Essex. The visitors managed to recover from a difficult situation on day three at Trent Bridge, when they were 129 for 5 shortly before lunch and only 89 runs ahead.

This put them at risk of losing the match, possibly in just three days.

After a 132-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Paul Walter (79) and Matt Critchley (68), Tom Westley's team were 289 runs ahead at 329 for 8 when rain forced an early close. Shane Snater remained unbeaten on 29.

The match is now poised for an intriguing final day. Nottinghamshire will fancy their chances if they can take the last two wickets quickly, but Essex would be favourites if they can extend their lead towards 350.

Essex's victory could prove crucial in their season's ambitions, especially if they face a points deduction due to the bat size violation by opener Feroze Khushi, who was asked to change it after an on-field check on day two.

Essex resumed on 65 for 1, 25 runs ahead, on day three. Neither of the players who contributed to their first-innings score were able to do so again.

Dean Elgar, who looked set for a debut century on Friday before being undone by a delivery from Dane Paterson, was dismissed by another good ball in the third over of the day. This time, the all-rounder Lyndon James caused the dismissal, as the ball found a gap between bat and pad and ricocheted off the South African's wrist and thigh pad before spectacularly leaving the three stumps leaning in different directions.

Jordan Cox, who was out for 84 in the first innings, faced only one ball and tickled Brett Hutton's second delivery of the day down the leg side to be caught behind. On Hutton's first ball, nightwatchman Sam Cook was dropped on 14 and then nicked one outside off stump to fall on 29.

Critchley survived Hutton's attempt to emulate Cook with a hat-trick. It wasn't long before Essex suffered another setback. Skipper Tom Westley changed his mind about playing a ball from Dillon Pennington outside off stump but not quickly enough. He feathered a third catch of the innings to wicketkeeper Clarke, leaving his side potentially in peril at 129 for 5.

Just as the first two innings were characterised by single large partnerships, the third followed the same pattern. Walter joined Critchley to plan a safe passage to lunch before taking the lead role in a 31-over afternoon session. During this session, the home side were unable to generate a scare for their opponents, let alone take a wicket.

By tea, their alliance was worth 132. Essex were 221 runs ahead and in a strong position, assuming the second new ball - available seven overs into the final session - did not prompt the evening collapse that had been a characteristic of the first two days.

In the event, leg-spinner Calvin Harrison made some inroads by taking two wickets in three overs. Walter, who had batted with growing confidence for his 79, edged the third ball after the break to be caught at slip with no addition to the score. Simon Harmer was also caught by Clarke for his fourth catch of the innings while his feet were rooted to the ground as he tried to cut.

Hutton dismissed Critchley leg before in the fifth over with the new ball, resulting in Essex losing their eighth wicket. A series of aggressive shots at the other end caused Pennington to concede five boundaries in two overs, bringing the Essex lead closer to 300. Unfortunately, rain arrived and 22 overs were lost from the day's scheduled 99.

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