GARY BALLANCE took his average in nine Specsavers County Championship innings this season to 103.85 as Yorkshire pressed for victory over Somerset at Taunton.

The 27-year-old left-armer boosted his prospects of an England Test call with an unbeaten 98 as his side progressed their second innings from an overnight 127 for two to 283 all out, Peter Handscomb contributing 70 and Dom Bess taking five for 80.

Steven Patterson then claimed three quick wickets as Somerset, chasing 262 to win, crashed to 49 for four before closing on 101 for four, needing a further 161 on the final day.

Ballance, unbeaten on 15 at the start of the day, held the Yorkshire innings together, showing the sort of application needed on a dry pitch offering just enough assistance to the spinners to make batting tricky.

He lost overnight partner Handscomb with the total on 158 as the Australian pushed forward to off-spinner Bess and edged to Marcus Trescothick at slip.

Bess quickly followed up by removing Jack Leaning to another Trescothick slip catch, this time tempting the batsman to drive at a cleverly flighted delivery wide of off stump.

Ballance went to his half-century off 98 balls, with nine fours, and found a positive partner in Matthew Waites, who hit Bess for three boundaries in an over as the pair took the total to 213 for four at lunch.

That gave Yorkshire a lead of 191. But the early post-lunch session proved disastrous for them as four wickets fell for the addition of only 10 runs.

The first ball after the interval saw Waites caught at short-leg off Jack Leach. The left-arm spinner also accounted for Azeem Rafiq and Patterson, while Bess pinned Andrew Hodd lbw.

Suddenly, at 223 for eight, the visitors looked vulnerable. But Ballance was still there calming any dressing-room nerves and Karl Carver contributed 13 to a priceless ninth-wicket stand of 51.

Somerset delayed taking the second new ball with Bess and Leach bowling well in tandem. And when they did take it the only immediate result was an increase in the Yorkshire scoring rate.

By the time Carver was run out by Leach's accurate throw to the wicketkeeper after the batsmen had hesitated over a quick single to backward point, Yorkshire were 252 in front and looking favourites again.

Ballance had faced 230 balls, hitting 11 fours and two sixes, in an immensely impressive display of patience and sound technique when Bess claimed his fifth victim, last man Ryan Sidebottom falling lbw, much to his dismay.

Bess's 30th Championship wicket in just five appearances was unlucky for Balance, who had just moved to 98 with an extraordinary uppercut six over third man off Jamie Overton.

But any disappointment in Yorkshire ranks was soon dispelled by Patterson, who had Dean Elgar caught behind down the leg side before adding to the woes of Somerset's young skipper Tom Abell by trapping him lbw pushing half forward.

It has been a wretched season so far for the 23-year-old Abell, who saw two more wickets fall as Patterson had Trescothick caught behind for a scratchy seven and James Hildreth fell lbw to Waites for a breezy 27.

Adam Hose, on his Championship debut, was then joined by Steve Davies, another to have struggled this season. Together they gave Somerset hope with an unbroken stand of 52 in 18.5 overs.