Middlesex v Lancashire: 16 wickets tumble on day two as scene set for tight finish
PUBLISHED: 18:43 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:49 20 September 2017
Wickets continued to tumble on an overcast day at Lord's as Middlesex gained a slight advantage on a match destined to end within three days if the weather holds.
Low scoring games generally involve tight finishes and this vital fixture for the home side appears no different as they set their opponents 221 to win on a deteriorating pitch.
With 15 wickets falling on day one, a total of 16 fell on Wednesday as the visitors ended the day on 46-1.
Earlier Adam Voges men polished off the last five wickets after the Lancastrian’s started the day on 113-5. Murtagh ended with four for 49 with James Harris picking up a wicket, that of Tom Bailey who was caught by Ollie Rayner. The off-spinner then snared figures of two for two off 4.5 overs as the away side were bowled out for 165.
On a pitch that wasn’t getting easier to bat on Middlesex decided to avoid going down wondering.
With Nick Compton playing attacking strokes before Bailey had him caught by Davies for nine it was Sam Robson’s turn to bat elegantly on his way to a hard-earned 58 from 156 balls to anchor the innings. While others contributed what they could under mostly grey skies.
Malan hit 18 but was removed immediately by Ryan McLaren after a delay for bad light.
John Simpson then notched a doughty 33 from 52 balls before succumbing to the penetrative Bailey after Jarvis held a catch.
The Middlesex tail didn’t wag on day two, but they had achieved more than enough through their exploits on Tuesday as they captured a valuable batting point in the first innings.
After Rayner was lbw to Bailey – who grabbed his second five wicket haul, making it an impressive ten for 98 – Murtagh was castled by Jarvis for five after an entertaining cameo where his misses were as captivating as his shots, as Middlesex ended their second innings 152 all out.
As the late September sun make a brief appearance Steven Finn had Davies lbw for a single as Lancashire ended the day on 46-1.
With the squad for this winter’s Ashes still to be decided – on top of course of the far more pressing fight for survival in Division One of the County Championship there are as many sub-plots and narratives to play out.
With young England tyro Haseeb Hameed on 22 not out, can he help secure the game for Lancashire? Can Finn bowl his way back into England contention with his 6-125 at Brisbane still lingering in some minds from 2010.
Will the durable 43-year-old Shivnarine Chanderpaul mark one of his final innings at Lord’s with a match-winning effort? Or, with cracks on the pitch opening up, can Ollie Rayner show his nous in demonstrating his art and replicating that glorious September match against Surrey at the Oval in 2013 when he spun Middlesex to victory.
This captivating contest is going to the wire. Quite simply Lancashire require 175 to win, Middlesex nine wickets.
But, like most crucial low scoring games this time of year, blink and you’ll miss it.