Leicestrershire’s Ackerman puts Middlesex under pressure

Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh celebrates taking a wicket (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh celebrates taking a wicket (pic Martin Rickett/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

An outstanding unbeaten 151 from Leicestershire’s Colin Ackermann, his second century in the championship this season, left Middlesex under pressure at the end of the first day of their Specsavers County Championship match at the Fischer County Ground.

The South African, playing with a protective cast on a finger in his right hand, reached 100 with a huge six over mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Ravi Patel, and reached 150 off the final ball of the day.

It was a vital knock for the Foxes, who had struggled after captain Paul Horton won the toss and chose to bat first under cloudy skies.

Tim Murtagh, who finished with 5-52 from 23 beautifully controlled overs, made the first breakthrough of the day, producing a fine delivery which seamed back in to hit the top of Horton’s off and middle stumps, before fellow opener Harry Dearden steered a wide delivery from Steve Finn straight into the hands of Hilton Cartwright at point to leave the home side on 25-2.

Ackermann and Mark Cosgrove added 40 for the third wicket, but just as Cosgrove was beginning to look more comfortable, the Australian attempted to steer an off-side delivery from Cartwright to third man, and succeeded only in giving Dawid Malan catching practice at second slip.

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The cloud began to clear, however, and Ackermann, in company with Neil Dexter, took advantage of the improvement in conditions on a pitch which had been used the previous day, for a one-day match between Leicestershire and India ‘A’.

Both drove fluently, particularly when hitting straight down the ground, and Dexter’s 50 came off just 73 balls, but shortly after he was dropped by Middlesex captain Malan, a tough low chance diving to his right off James Harris, an attempted drive at a Murtagh delivery took the edge and gave wicket-keeper John Simpson a straightforward catch.

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Murtagh then had Lewis Hill caught at first slip by Sam Robson, but Ackermann found more solid support from all-rounder Ben Raine.

Together they built a partnership of 64 for the sixth wicket before the persevering Patel dived to his right to take a fine return catch off the belligerent Raine.

Murtagh quickly disposed of Zak Chappell, bowled, and Callum Parkinson, bounced out, but Gavin Griffiths dug in, finishing on a first class best 18 not out as Ackermann went to his 150 to see the hosts to 353-8 at the close.

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