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Liam Brickhill at Lord's
May 21, 2011
Middlesex 150 and 293 for 6 v Glamorgan 522
Glamorgan ended the third day at Lord's in sight of an innings victory despite battling centuries from Chris Rogers and England Test captain Andrew Strauss, which had helped Middlesex temporarily hold a spirited bowling attack, led by the impressive James Harris, at bay. Middlesex, who began their second innings needing to score 373 simply to make Glamorgan bat again, made the visitors toil hard under increasingly cloudless skies but an inspired late spell from Harris yielded two important wickets and left the home side teetering at 293 for 6. Their situation could have been a lot worse, had Glamorgan made the most of the chances that came their way.
Though there was no overnight declaration, Glamorgan will have felt that victory was achievable with a day to spare when they arrived at the ground and their belief would have been lifted when Harris removed Scott Newman in the fifth over of the Middlesex innings. While their bowlers were visibly keen, Glamorgan's fielding was far from perfect, however, and a series of lapses allowed Strauss and Rogers to repair the innings with a 173-run stand that lasted until well into the afternoon.
On a pitch that flattened out considerably in the sunshine, neither Harris nor Graham Wagg, who shared the new ball and swung it consistently at a good pace, could force more than the occasional error from the batsmen. Half an hour before lunch, Rogers cracked Wagg in front of square on the leg side and, immediately afterwards, lurched into an extravagant drive at one that left him off the pitch, a thick edge flying low to Bragg's right at third slip.
The chance was spilled, however, and more fumbles were to follow when Strauss, who had just 30 at the time, was put down by Gareth Rees under the helmet at short leg off Will Owen's bowling. The luck appeared to be entirely on the side of the batsmen, and in the next over - Dean Cosker's first of the day - Rogers clipped low but in the air towards Wagg at midwicket, but the shot didn't quite carry to the diving fielder.
As the skies cleared and the day began to warm, the batsmen settled and began to score more freely. There are plenty of similarities in Strauss and Rogers' styles, and they matched each other almost shot for shot to bring up twin fifties off 81 and 89 balls, respectively. It was then that Strauss started to take the initiative, pulling ahead of Rogers and moving on fluently but continuing to ride his luck. Beaten in the flight by Robert Croft as he jumped down the wicket when on 92, he went through with an attacking stroke and lobbed the ball up and over point to move within one stroke of his century.
He reached the mark, from 151 deliveries, and promptly edged Cosker past a diving slip fielder as Glamorgan's shoulders began to sag. They were given a tremendous lift not long afterwards, against the run of play, when Rogers tapped Cosker to Wagg at midwicket and Strauss committed himself to a chancy single. He was sent back late and easily run out as the ball was rocketed back to the bowler with the batsman stranded halfway down the wicket.
When Malan got a touch on one from Cosker that held its line, the ball nestling safely in Wallace's gloves, and Neil Dexter was felled by Owen Middlesex were once again under pressure. Rogers responded with some obdurate batting, and found a willing partner in Jamie Dalrymple, who helped add 60 for the fifth wicket to raise Middlesex's hopes once more. Rogers raised his first century of the season from 175 balls and began to look increasingly imperious at the crease, particularly on the front foot.
It appeared Glamorgan's cumbersome day in the field would continue into the evening when, with just four overs left in the day, Harris finally found a clean edge off the stubborn Rogers' bat, but once again Glamorgan's fielders were found wanting. The chance was parried by Alviro Petersen at first slip, setting off a scramble among the close catchers and wicketkeeper around him, none of whom could hold onto it.
The lapse leant a few extra decibels to the level of Harris's joyous roar when, two balls later, he forced yet another edge and this time Cosker at third slip deflected the chance into Petersen's waiting hands. It ended a 310-minute vigil from the Australian and just about put paid to Middlesex's faint hopes of saving this game.
A pumped-up Harris got rid of Dalrymple, trapped in front of his stumps, with the first ball of his next over to put himself on a hat-trick. John Simpson defended his first delivery to point to deny Harris the honour, but edged his second just short of third slip in the tense closing moments of the evening. Middlesex's position wasn't quite perilous enough for the umpires to grant an extra half-hour of play, but Glamorgan will expect to wrap up a morale-boosting win in the first session on Sunday.
Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Liam Brickhill
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