Eskinazi leads way for Middlesex

Stevie Eskinazi in batting action for Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Stevie Eskinazi in batting action for Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Unbeaten century is highlight on day two at Edgbaston

Stevie Eskinazi’s fourth first-class century, a smorgasbord of the stubborn, the streaky and the stylish, underpinned a solid day’s work for Middlesex against Warwickshire in their Specsavers County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.

In reply to the home side’s 334, Middlesex closed the second day on 302-6: a decent position from which to try to build a useful first-innings lead.

They owe that position almost exclusively to Eskinazi, their leading championship run-scorer this season, who ended the day unbeaten on a career-best 178 from 240 balls with 24 fours and three sixes.

With only bit-part support, the 23-year-old has single-handedly left his team eyeing a potential push for victory. At the very least he has kept them out of trouble in a match which bottom-of-the-table Warwickshire badly need to win to boost their slender hopes of avoiding relegation.

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It was a far from faultless innings as, fortunate not to perish second-ball, Eskinazi played and missed at plenty and edged plenty more, but he also unfurled some splendid shots with his straight driving a particular treat.

All results remain possible, but whether either of these confidence-shorn sides can summon the power to force victory remains to be seen. Eskinazi’s curate’s egg has at least left Middlesex with a chance of cooking up a win.

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Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 302-7 and started crisply as Keith Barker and Jeetan Patel took the score to 330.

But Tim Murtagh’s brilliant return catch to dismiss Barker (49, 87 balls, seven fours) triggered the loss of the last three wickets for four runs in 25 balls.

George Panayi edged Tom Helm and Murtagh trapped Boyd Rankin lbw to finish with 3-85.

Middlesex’s reply began badly when Sam Robson fell lbw to Barker’s third ball and Nick Compton then retired hurt on 12, having taking a couple of painful blows on the knee.

But Eskinazi and Dawid Malan (39, 62 balls, six fours, one six) added 89 in 22 overs before stand-in skipper Malan tried to cut spinner Jeetan Patel’s second ball and nicked to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.

Compton then resumed his innings and ground his way to 33 in two hours, before edging Rikki Clarke behind.

Eskinazi motored on but his partners came and went as Paul Stirling lifted a wide ball from Rankin to Matt Lamb at point before Patel removed John Simpson, caught at short leg, and Ryan Higgins, who was caught behind.

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