Second day (of four): Somerset lead Worcestershire by 342 runs with three second-innings wickets remaining

There is surely just an outside chance that Worcestershire may bounce back from a massive first-innings deficit today to pull off an unlikely win.

They were extremely fortunate not to be asked to follow on yesterday afternoon, but if Steve Rhodes' men are to achieve one of their more memorable victories, they will have to bat a lot better than they did first time around.

The Worcestershire coach will have to hope that Somerset's bowlers bowl as badly as his own attack did on Wednesday.

Despite the laudable efforts of Zaheer Khan to bowl his side back into the match last night, victory for thr hosts is an unlikely scenario, especially as the full size of their target is yet to be established.

Wesley Durston and Richard Johnson, who will start at the crease this morning, are both in the groove after hitting first-innings half-centuries and Somerset could yet move completely out of range if the Somerset tail swings again.

Whatever the target when Worcester's batsmen do get a second crack, they will need the sort of application shown by home-grown Daryl Mitchell in taking almost four hours to grind out 52, the third half-century of his career.

Like his maiden fifty at Grace Road last June, a career-best 63 not out lasting more than five hours and 245 balls, this was by no means a rapid knock. The inventor of the Spitfire aircraft was also called Mitchell - and that's where the similarity ends.

At one point in midmorning, the boy from Badsey went 72 minutes without scoring a run, clocking up 56 consecutive dot balls. Marcus Trescothick had a lot to do with that, having put him down when Mitchell was on three.

The early observations from some cruel wags was that it had been a good tactical move from Trescothick, especially when the former England vice captain clung on a tougher chance to get rid of home skipper Vikram Solanki, triggering an Andrew Caddick-inspired collapse either side of lunch that saw the hosts slump from 79 for one to 123 for seven.

But, if it had not been for Mitchell's gritty 177-ball effort, which had lasted more than three hours before he even treated himself to a first boundary, the home side would have been in a mess.

In the end, having watched his team-mates all swish against a swinging ball, to edge either to the slips or grateful wicketkeeper Carl Gazzard, Mitchell's frustration got the better of him.

In trying to turn Peter Trego to leg, he offered a leading edge to mid-off and, once Matt Mason's lusty six over midwicket was paid for when Trego got him next ball, Zaheer's debut duck brought the innings to an end.

Zaheer was to enjoy more fun with the ball, though, after Somerset had bizarrely opted not to enforce the follow-on, despite being 245 runs to the good.

Somerset, the cycnical suggested, were under orders from a worried Lord's to give Trescothick more batting practice. But, if that really was the plan (and nothing surprises you in this modern-day game of cricket), then it backfired spectacularly with his fourth successive Championship failure inside eight days.

After his first-innings duck, Trescothick was this time going at a run a ball when Kabir Ali trapped him lbw to his sixth delivery.

Zaheer earned another lbw decision to get rid of John Francis, before Mason and Nadeem Malik got in on the act and, when Zaheer returned for another go at the New Road End, he claimed three more scalps, including visiting skipper Matthew Wood, well set on 44.

It added up to a staggering haul of 17 wickets in the day but, on a track that had seen 406 piled up by Somerset on Wednesday, there was no need to call the pitch inspectors. Most of it could be put down simply to bad batting.