COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP – Loss of late wickets damage Middlesex hopes of posting Warwickshire a challenging victory target
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Late wickets in the final few overs at the end of day two appear to have cost Middlesex a chance of posting Warwickshire a challenging winning target.
Middlesex ended the day on 183-6 after losing three wickets for 16 runs in the last hour, a lead of 143 with four wickets remaining.
It was a blow to their hopes of making ground on the leaders who sat 56 points ahead of fifth placed Middlesex at the start of the match in their bid to kick-start a promotion push after a mixed summer so far.
But hopes of a victory charge subsided when England test batsman and Seaxes club captain Dawid Malan fell with fewer than five overs to go until the end of play on a roasting afternoon as Oliver Hannon-Dalby castled him for 28.
The loss of the talented Malan was a blow to the home side’s hopes after they had shown character to battle back in heatwave temperatures in NW8 after their disappointing collapse on the opening morning scuppered hopes of putting the visitors under pressure.
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With national team selector Ed Smith watching on, it was a double blow for Malan as the club seeks stability following the departure of head coach Richarad Scott in what is new incumbent Richard Johnson’s first game in charge.
Eoin Morgan had fallen lbw for three off a stilted 25 balls to Jeetan Patel with the score on 167-3.
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Twelve runs later Max Holden was snaffled by the vastly-experienced Kiwi veteran who earned 24 Test caps for New Zealand for eight, as the total reached 179-6.
John Simpson – who had taken three catches in the morning session ended on four not out with partner Ollie Rayner yet to get off the mark.
Earlier Perth-born Steve Eskinazi hit 73 vital runs before 23-year-old Sam Hain caught him off Patel’s bowling.
The 38-year-old Warwickshire stalwart also snared Nick Gubbins who battled to 47 as the Kiwi went on his way to impressive bowling figures of 4-38.
The mini-collapse was a shame for the home side after they clawed their way back into the contest after being 7-76 on Sunday morning as they bowled out Warwickshire in their first innings for 276 – 40 runs ahead of their hosts.
Their total was aided greatly by the impressive Will Rhodes, who reached his second first class hundred of the season with a disciplined knock of 118 off 239 balls before he offered a caught and bowled chance to the tireless James Harris who ended the innings with figures of 4-84.
Wily stalwart Tim Murtagh took 3-43 with Rayner chipping in with 2-55 as he ended the innings three wickets away from the milestone of 300 first class victims.