A buccaneering 10th-wicket stand of 70 restored Warwickshire’s control after Essex fought back hard on the second day of their captivating County Championship match at Edgbaston.

Essex closed day two on 86 for four, still trailing by 30, in a mesmeric contest between two potential title challengers.

After bowling Essex out for 126 on day one, Warwickshire appeared set for only a modest lead when they lost seven wickets in 17 overs to dip to 172 for nine.

The momentum was firmly with Essex’s seamers, led by Doug Bracewell (four for 51), but last pair Hassan Ali (53 not out) and Olly Hannon-Dalby clouted 70 from 69 balls to lift their side to 242.

The wagging tail extended the lead to an imposing 116 and piled the pressure back on Essex, who need their middle and lower orders to bat big on Saturday.

Further twists are likely in match which has fluctuated wildly throughout.

After Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 17 for two, Will Rhodes (63) and Sam Hain (45) batted through the morning session to take their side to 104 for two at lunch – just 22 behind.

A big lead beckoned but the seeds of an Essex fightback had been sown by Sam Cook and Simon Harmer.

Late in the morning they bowled 14 overs for 17 runs to ensure that, despite wickets intact, the home side had not got away. Then, after lunch, wickets came in a heap.

Shane Snater triggered the collapse with a brace of excellent balls which did for Hain and Dan Mousley in successive overs.

Ed Barnard batted attractively for 28 but Bracewell’s removal of him, bowled through a drive, triggered the loss of five wickets in 32 balls.

Sam Cook trapped Danny Briggs lbw while Bracewell forced fatal edges from Michael Burgess, Chris Rushworth and Rhodes who, having batted with great responsibility, departed cursing himself at being lured into reaching outside off stump.

From 172 for nine, Warwickshire’s last pair brought the crowd to its feet with an audacious counter-attack.

Hasan Ali began it by launching Cook twice into the Hollies Stand. Hannon-Dalby joined in with successive sixes pulled off Bracewell to raised the 50 stand from 50 balls.

Ali located the seating again to bring up his half-century from 33 balls. When Hannon-Dalby finally edged Snater behind, the flow of the match had reversed spectacularly again.

Second time around, Essex lost Nick Browne, bowled by Rushworth in the third over.

Tom Westley and Alastair Cook started to put down roots of the hefty stand their team required but fell lbw in the space of three overs.

Barnard ousted Westley before Ali dismissed Cook.

On a damp, grey afternoon, in front of a smattering of Championship diehards, the former England captain trudged off the Edgbaston field where he has enjoyed some of his greatest moments.