Graeme van Buuren, James Bracey pile on the runs to revive Gloucestershire

James Bracey continued his run of good form Getty Images

Gloucestershire 399 for 4 (van Buuren 156*, Bracey 137*, Chappell 2-23) trail Derbyshire 526 (Lamb 207, Guest 95, Donald 67, Dal 62, Webster 6-100) by 127 runs

Gloucestershire's James Bracey and Graeme van Buuren blasted their side out of trouble with swashbuckling centuries before rain took a hand on the third day of the Vitality County Championship Division Two match with Derbyshire at Bristol.

The fifth-wicket pair launched a savage attack on the second new ball, producing a boundary blitz and adding 156 runs to their team's overnight first innings total of 243 for four in just 21 overs before the heavens opened, with Bracey unbeaten on 137 and van Buuren having raced to 156 not out.

No play was possible after lunch. At 399 for four, Gloucestershire were still 127 short of Derbyshire's first innings total of 526, but on the most benign of batting surfaces, with two players in top form, they can feel optimistic of avoiding defeat on the final day.

Bracey was on 87 and van Buuren 61 when play began, with 14 overs to bat before Derbyshire could take a second new ball both sides knew could be central to the outcome. Bracey moved comfortably to his second hundred of the season, reaching the milestone with his 15th four, a cut off Luis Reece, having faced 151 balls.

Gloucestershire had just claimed a second batting bonus point when van Buuren elected to cut loose, moving from 88 to his 15th first class century with three fours off successive deliveries from off-spinner Alex Thomson in the over before the new ball became due.

Derbyshire took it immediately, but suffered as a result when both Daryn Dupavillon and Sam Connors strayed in line and length, producing a plethora of short deliveries, while others were overpitched. The first five overs with the harder ball went for 65 runs.

Bracey and van Buuren attacked at every opportunity, the latter pulling Connors over mid-wicket for six and clearing the ropes again off the same bowler with a sweetly-timed flick over fine leg. The diminutive Gloucestershire skipper needed only 28 deliveries to move from 100 to 150, sending the ball to all parts of the Seat Unique Stadium.

From 318 for four when the new ball was taken, Gloucestershire had posted 383 for four by the end of the 85th over. Derbyshire captain David Lloyd had little option but to remove Dupavillon and Connors from the attack, bringing on Anuj Dal and Reece.

Play had already been interrupted by a short shower when heavier rain arrived and lunch was taken. Bracey had faced 175 balls, striking 19 fours and a six, while the inspired van Buuren had clocked up 22 fours and 2 sixes in facing 172 deliveries.

The partnership was worth 268 in 48.3 overs when the weather set in. Umpires Paul Pollard and Naeem Ashraf made a 3pm pitch inspection, ordered tea to be taken at 3.10pm, and looked again at 4pm, by which time more rain had fallen. They abandoned play for the day at 4.15pm.

Derbyshire 3rd innings Partnerships

1st25LM ReeceDL Lloyd
2nd54DL LloydBD Guest
3rd70WL MadsenBD Guest
4th0MJ LambBD Guest
5th17AHT DonaldMJ Lamb