Weather curtails Lord's thriller
Middlesex 219 and 255 drew with Leicestershire 282 and 139 for 5
Rain and bad light in the last hour put paid to an enthralling finish at Lord's where County Championship Division Two rivals Middlesex and Leicestershire were eventually forced to shake hands on an intriguing draw.
As the game entered its final hour, three short showers led to a hat-trick of brief interruptions and the loss of 10 overs. When rain arrived again just before 5.30pm, umpires Peter Willey and Nigel Cowley led the players off for a final time with Leicestershire on 139 for 5 - only 54 short of victory.
Having mopped up the last six Middlesex wickets inside 45 minutes at the start of the day, Leicestershire set about chasing 193 for their sixth win of the summer. The visitors made the worse of starts when Greg Smith, fresh from a stylish 65 in the first innings, fell for a golden duck second time around after being castled by Tim Murtagh.
Soon after lunch Jacques du Toit, driving hard at a delivery from Murtagh, found a thick edge to be spectacularly held overhead and to his right at slip by Dawid Malan to make it 29 for 2. Middlesex nemesis James Taylor, averaging 161 against the north London side, this time went after only six deliveries and without scoring. Moving back and across his stumps, when he might have played forward to a full-length ball from Pedro Collins, Taylor went lbw to give Middlesex their first whiff of victory.
Paul Nixon (24) then dug in with fellow left-hander Matthew Boyce to add 55 in 21.3 overs and take the visitors to within 109 of victory. However, on the cusp of the tea break, Nixon pushed forward at the occasional off-spin of Owais Shah to be caught at short leg.
Boyce notched a 102-ball half-century at the start of the final session but only two balls later he went back to a quicker ball from Shaun Udal that crept through the defences and pegged back off stump to leave Leicestershire seemingly in trouble at 92 for 5. Tom New cut the deficit further with a bright and breezy 41 not out with six boundaries before rain arrived and frustration ensued.
The final day started with Middlesex resuming on their overnight position of 168 for 4 after 62 overs. They soon lost nightwatchman Toby Roland-Jones for 13, sweeping hard at a full-length ball from Claude Henderson. Roland-Jones saw the ball defect off the right arm of Taylor at short leg and fly to Boyce at backward square leg.
Former England batsman Shah combined forces with Gareth Berg (21) to see Middlesex past 200 seemingly in comfort, with Shah posting his third half-century of the summer along the way from 111 balls and with two boundaries. But the loss of Shah, caught at slip off the bowling of Jigar Naik, sparked a dramatic home collapse which saw Middlesex lose their last five wickets for 29 runs in the space of 8.5 overs.
Left-arm spinner Henderson bagged 3 for 49, off-spinner Naik 2 for 78 and rookie right-arm seamer, Nathan Buck, who extracted good pace and bounce from a fourth-day pitch, claimed 3 for 37 as Middlesex collapsed from 119 without loss to 255 all out.