Middlesex rallied strongly on the third day of the LV= County Championship match against Durham at The Riverside. Although they were forced to follow-on, they made 330 in their first innings having been 45-4 and trailing by 238 runs they reached 90-2 by the close of play. With poor weather forecast for the final day, Middlesex might well escape with a draw and take nine points from the match.
In the morning, Middlesex resumed their first innings on 69-4 with Joe Denly and John Simpson at the wicket. Rushworth and Hastings opened the bowling for Durham after Ben Stokes bowled the one ball remaining from the previous evening. Denly scored two successive fours off Rushworth in the fourth over of the day and John Simpson played well with a number of well-timed fours through the covers. The total reached 125-4 after 42 overs and Denly then hit Ben Stokes for three successive fours in the next over.
Denly was playing with increasing confidence and he hit Mark Wood for three fours in an over, the first of which brought up an 82 ball fifty which contained seven fours. The total reached 159-4 before John Simpson was surprised by a knee-high full-toss and was bowled by Stokes for 44. Paul Stirling, in only his second LV=CC match for Middlesex, got off the mark with a cover-driven four off the third ball he faced and he received most of the bowling as Middlesex reached 174-5 at the start of the final over before lunch. Unfortunately, after Paul Stirling scored a single off a no-ball from Hastings, Joe Denly’s fine innings ended when he was caught by Richardson at third slip for 59. Paul Stirling was 15 not out in a total of 177-6 at lunch.
Toby Roland-Jones joined Stirling immediately after lunch and Stirling added a further two runs to the total before he was badly missed by Ben Stokes in the gully off the bowling of Chris Rushworth. The Middlesex pair saw off Rushworth and Hastings who were replaced by Ben Stokes and Mark Wood. The two hundred came up in the 65th over with Stirling hitting two fours in a Ben Stokes over. Toby Roland-Jones, who recorded a career-best 60 with the bat at Northampton, played superbly well and hit Stokes for three fours in an over as Middlesex reached 236-6 after 69 overs.
Scott Borthwick then came on to bowl his leg-breaks with Paul Collingwood bowling his seamers at the Lumley End. Stirling then reached a maiden first-class fifty for Middlesex (off 96 balls, 8 fours) and the partnership for the seventh wicket reached 87 before Paul Stirling was caught at short-leg by Keaton Jennings for 55 off the bowling of Borthwick. Tim Murtagh joined Roland-Jones and the new ball was taken shortly afterwards with the total on 265-7.
Toby Roland-Jones reached an 80 ball fifty which contained eight fours before Tim Murtagh went on the offensive. Murtagh scored two fours in a Rushworth over before he hit John Hastings for three fours off successive balls as Middlesex reached three hundred to secure an unlikely third batting bonus point. Roland-Jones then went past his previous career-best score of 60 but when he had reached 63 he was bowled by Wood in the last over before tea. Middlesex went into the break on 320-8 with Tim Murtagh on 34 not out.
Steve Finn came in immediately after tea but he managed only a two before he was bowled by Mark Wood. Ravi Patel then played out the remaining four balls of the over before Tim Murtagh pulled a Borthwick delivery for a six over mid-wicket. However, Murtagh was stumped by Phil Mustard off the next ball from Borthwick as Middlesex were all-out for 330 with Murtagh having made 42 off just 30 balls. Mark Wood had figures of 4-75 from 17 overs with Hastings. Stokes and Borthwick taking two wickets each.
Middlesex followed on 238 runs in arrears and with a total of twenty-seven overs remaining in the day but they had an early set-back when Chris Rogers was trapped LBW by Rushworth for a single in the third over of the innings. Dawid Malan joined Sam Robson and the pair batted solidly as the Middlesex total progressed to 58-1 after 19 overs. Mark Wood then returned to the attack and Robson scored two twos and a four in his over as Middlesex reached 71-1 after 21 overs.
After a single to Sam Robson off the first ball of the following over from Wood, Dawid Malan got a top-edged four which just cleared the fielder at long-leg but off the next ball, Malan pulled to deep mid-wicket where Keaton Jennings took a superb catch, diving full-length to dismiss Malan for 33. Ravi Patel came in as a night-watchman with the total on 76-2 and with Sam Robson saw Middlesex through to the close of play on 90-2 with Robson on 42 not out and Patel 7 not out.
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