KESHAV Maharaj returned 7-37 as Lancashire claimed an unlikely tie from a drama-packed Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.

Set only 78 to win after Jack Leach completed career-best match figures of 12-102 in Lancashire’s second innings of 170, Somerset crashed to 77 all out, their last two wickets falling with one run needed to win.

Left-arm spinner Maharaj was the hero, ending with 11-102 in the match. But Graham Onions contributed three important wickets as no home batsman could reach 20 under pressure.

Both teams took 11 points from the first Championship tie since 2003 and the outcome proved what could be a mortal blow to Somerset’s hopes of a first ever Championship title, while also boosting Lancashire's survival hopes.

The hosts will also be awaiting the outcome of the pitch report from ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Dean Cosker with some concern after 25 wickets in the match fell to spin.

Lancashire director of cricket Paul Allott said: “We would have taken a tie at 10.30am this morning I can tell you.

"It was a hugely dramatic game, although I am not sure how good it was. What it has done is caught people’s attention and put County Championship cricket in the spotlight.

“The pitch, in my view, was certainly below average and could have been rated poor on the ECB scale.

"It was disappointing to be confronted by those conditions, but we produced a stunning performance in the field this afternoon to come out of a game we were behind in on level terms.

“Spin won the day, but if you can’t turn a ball on that wicket there isn’t much hope for you. It was a loose and dusty surface, which you would expect bowlers of international calibre to perform on as well as they did,

“It is not for me to say whether Somerset should be docked points. There is a due process that will be followed by the Cricket Liaison Officer and it is up to him how he views the pitch.

“If he rates it below average it will be the second one at Taunton to receive that rating in the last 12 months and in that event there is another process to follow.”

Lancashire began day two on 7-2 but only Steven Croft, who made an excellent 51, and Liam Livingstone (39) passed 20 as the visitors were bowled out for 170.

Wickets fell at regular intervals in the Somerset innings but the home side tied the scores eight down.

But Dom Bess,on 19, was stumped trying to hit Maharaj out of the ground, and Leach blotted his copybook by being caught by Bailey at wide long-on off a skier, Jamie Overton having just played out a maiden from Onions.