Somerset v Middlesex: Patel keeping positive
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Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel is hoping history can repeat itself as they battle for survival at Somerset.
The 2016 champions will start the final day of their County Championship match on 40-3, chasing 345 at Taunton to avoid relegation.
And Patel, who has taken 12 wickets in the match, reflected on a previous narrow escape, saying: “When I was selected for the match I knew I had a chance of doing well, but 12 wickets is beyond anything I could have hoped for.
“It has been a dream for me. The game hasn’t panned out as we would have liked so far, but that doesn’t mean we can’t save it. The pitch is easier to bat on than on day one because the turn is slower.
“We faced a similar situation in 2014 against Lancashire when we had to bat the day out to stay up and we did it. I was number 11 in that game and it was the nine and ten batsmen in when the game ended so I will never forget it.
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“The difference between the teams so far has been James Hildreth, who is a class batsman. We will fight hard and keep an eye on what is going on at Edgbaston where Hampshire face a tough task.”
Steady rain set in at 1.40pm on Wednesday, ensuring no more play, with the visitors struggling.
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Jack Leach removed openers Sam Robson and Nick Compton, while Dom Bess produced a ball that turned and lifted in his first over to have Dawid Malan caught behind.
Earlier, James Hildreth had completed his 41st first class century as Somerset extended their second innings to 250-9 before skipper Tom Abell declared.
Hildreth, who began the day on 82, was out for 109 in the chase for quick runs as Patel finished with 5-92 and match figures of 12-173.
Aware that rain was forecast for the afternoon, Somerset batted positively from their overnight score of 159-3.
Abell moved from 33 to 45 before being out to a one-day shot. Attempting to reverse sweep Patel, he guided the ball straight to Adam Voges at slip.
Steve Davies, who received his Somerset county cap during the lunch interval, fell leg before to Patel before Hildreth was bowled by James Harris, having faced 192 balls and hit 12 fours.
The innings was priceless for Somerset, not only for putting them in a strong position, but also in showing what was possible on a pitch that was the centre of controversy on day one.
Craig Overton, warmly applauded as he walked to the wicket following his Ashes tour selection, perished in a bid for boundaries, as did Bess and Roelof van der Merwe, who produced a valuable cameo of 24 off 19 balls.
When he became Patel’s fourth victim of the day and fifth of the innings, Abell declared and quickly offered the new ball to left-arm spinner Leach in tandem with Overton.
Robson survived two major scares before he was out, with Overton missing the wickets after fielding the first ball of the innings off his own bowling when Nick Compton called for a quick single, and Abell dropping a dolly at short cover off Leach.
The mistakes didn’t prove costly as Leach got a ball to grip and Robson edged to Overton at slip with the total on 20.
Changing his pace cleverly, Leach then had Compton lbw failing to get forward to a full ball and Bess’s second delivery was too good for Malan.
The rain arrived with Somerset going for the throat and, with the forecast dry, the home side will hope to secure the win that keeps them in the top flight and could send Middlesex down if Hampshire win at Warwickshire.