Those who made it to Lord’s despite the Tube strike, were treated to a wonderful days’ cricket with a total of 443 runs scored for the loss of just nine wickets. Gary Ballance played a brilliant innings to reach 130 out of a Yorkshire total of 416 that left Middlesex needing an unlikely total of 472 runs to win in a minimum of 147 overs. Whilst Yorkshire once lost a match against Somerset at Taunton in 2009 when the home side successfully made 479-6, Middlesex’s highest run chase in a fourth innings at Lord’s is 366-5 against Sussex in 1926.
The Middlesex openers then played quite brilliantly, putting on 181 runs for the first wicket before Sam Robson was out for 77 but skipper Chris Rogers was still there at the close of play on 122 not out with Dawid Malan 28 not out to leave Middlesex needing 242 runs on the final day with nine wickets intact.
In the morning, Yorkshire resumed their second innings on 213-4 but they lost night-watchman Steven Patterson in the first over of the day when Dawid Malan held a catch at first slip at the second attempt to dismiss Patterson for six off Neil Dexter’s bowling. Adil Rashid joined Ballance who began the day on 10 not out and the pair saw off the threat of Steve Finn who was hit for three fours in the fourth over of the morning. They took Yorkshire to 258-5 before Middlesex took the new ball after 80.3 overs. Rashid played well to overtake Ballance as the pair faced the new ball attack of Tim Murtagh and James Harris.
The pair took Yorkshire to 288-5 before Rashid was caught at the wicket by John Simpson, off Tim Murtagh’s bowling for 43 (off just 58 balls, 8 fours) to bring Andy Hodd to the wicket. The three hundred came up in the 92nd over and Ballance hit the first six of his innings, off Ollie Rayner, to reach a 94 ball fifty. Ballance and Hodd took Yorkshire to the brink of lunch before Steve Finn had Hodd well caught by James Harris at mid-wicket for 22 as the visitors went into lunch on 333-7 with Ballance 62 not out.
Liam Plunkett joined Ballance immediately after lunch but Plunkett was bowled by Neil Dexter for a second ball duck to reduce Yorkshire to 333-8. Ryan Sidebottom joined Ballance and the pair added a further seventeen runs for the ninth wicket before Sidebottom was caught at the wicket by John Simpson for five, off Ollie Rayner’s bowling. Last man, Jack Brooks joined Ballance who was on 74 not out at that point and Ballance then went on the attack brilliantly, hitting Neil Dexter for a six and two fours in an over before hitting fourteen runs in the following over from Ollie Rayner to reach a 133 ball hundred (3 sixes & 14 fours).
Further carnage came in Rayner’s next over with Ballance hitting two sixes, one of which cleared the Grandstand and went out of the ground. Tim Murtagh returned to bowl at the Nursery End and after Brooks took a four and a single off the first two balls, Ballance hit Murtagh for a six and a four before he carved the fifth ball of the over to Steve Finn who took the catch at third man. A total of 66 runs were added for the last wicket in just 5.4 overs with Ballance being dismissed for 130 (off 143 balls, with 6 sixes & 15 fours): Jack Brooks was 10 not out in a total of 416. Steve Finn had figures of 4-89 in 22 overs with Tim Murtagh taking 2-77 in 21.5 overs (the last wicket was Murtagh’s 500th first-class wicket), Neil Dexter 2-67 in 16 overs, Ollie Rayner 2-108 in 26 overs whilst James Harris had figures of 0-62 after 25 overs.
Fifty-one overs of the day remained when Chris Rogers and Sam Robson began the huge task of scoring 472 runs to win. The innings started with the pair playing out maiden overs from Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks but Robson and Rogers in particular, played positively with a number of finely timed drives through the covers and straight drives. The pair were both on 39 out of a total of 78-0 at tea from just nineteen overs.
Rogers continued in the same vein immediately after tea, reaching a 58 ball fifty (9 fours) and he hit a total of five fours in the first five overs after the break. With the total on 113-0 after 24 overs, Yorkshire switched to spin at the Pavilion End with Adil Rashid coming on to bowl his leg-breaks. Robson hit the first ball of Rashid’s second over for a four to bring up his 81 ball fifty (10 fours) and when Liam Plunkett returned to the attack, he late-cut him for two fours, backward of cover-point.
The total reached 159-0 after just 33 overs at which point, Kane Williamson was brought on to bowl his off-spin at the Nursery End. Williamson applied the break but Rogers reached his hundred in the 37th over with his nineteenth four (off 110 balls). The partnership had reached 181 before Sam Robson’s fine innings ended when he cut a Jack Brooks' delivery and Gary Ballance took the catch at slip to dismiss Robson for 77 (off 119 balls, 13 fours).
Dawid Malan got off the mark first ball with a streaky four off Brooks but thereafter gave Rogers excellent support as the pair took Middlesex to 230-1 at the close of play after 51 overs. Chris Rogers is 122 not out from 149 balls (21 fours) with Dawid Malan on 28 not out.
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