Cricket: Abbas checks Middlesex progress at Lord’s

Pakistan's Mohammad Abbas celebrates taking a wicket (pic Nigel French/PA)

Pakistan's Mohammad Abbas celebrates taking a wicket (pic Nigel French/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Mohammad Abbas claimed four wickets on a topsy-turvy first day of Leicestershire’s County Championship fixture with Middlesex at Lord’s.

The Pakistani Test bowler looked a class above the rest in returning 4-57 to restrict the hosts to 325-8 on decent batting surface.

Half-centuries from Nick Gubbins, debutante Tom Lace and George Scott - the latter's highest first-class score - kept the home side in the hunt, but they will be frustrated no-one was able to kick on and make a truly telling contribution

Despite cloudless skies, Leicestershire exercised their right to field and claimed immediate reward when Abbas trapped Sam Robson LBW with the first ball of the match.

It was the beginning of a testing opening burst which would have yielded further reward had Harry Dearden clung onto a low edge at third slip when Max Holden had made 13.

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It was a costly miss as Holden and Gubbins settled down to build a century stand. Gubbins in particular found his fluency, hitting 10 boundaries as he passed 50.

It was Abbas again who broke the stand shortly after lunch with one which left Holden (41) off the seam and was edged through to wicketkeeper Lewis Hill.

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Gubbins (75), in a rich vein of form after three scores of 90-plus in the Royal London One-Day Cup continued untroubled, taking his boundary count to 15, but with a century in the offing the left-hander needlessly aimed a sweep at off-spinner Colin Ackerman and gently lobbed a catch to short-fine leg.

That brought in Stevie Eskinazi, skipper in the absence of the injured Dawid Malan, and he moved briskly to 33 at more than a run a ball courtesy of six fours.

However, he too fell victim to Ackerman (2-53) when trying to cut one too close to him and edging through to Hill.

His departure ended a stand of 46 with Tom Lace, who was making his first-class debut for Middlesex after being recalled from a loan spell with Derbyshire.

He too played nicely, surviving just one scare when top-edging one from Abbas over the head of Hill.

His eighth four took him to 50 just before tea, but he too departed almost immediately afterwards when edging a lifting ball from Ben Mike and giving Hill his third catch of the day.

And the hosts were in trouble when two balls later Mike ( 2-95) struck again, trapping John Simpson LBW with one which seemed to keep low.

George Scott and James Harris, the latter fresh from his maiden century in Middlesex's Royal London Cup play-off defeat to Lancashire dug in adding 55, before Abbas got the new ball in his hand and snared the latter leg before for 24.

Ollie Rayner in his first match of the season suffered the same fate just two balls later, meaning Middlesex needed George Scott (52 not out) to steer them past the sanctuary of 300.

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