Berg and Murtagh put Middlesex on brink
Leicestershire 319 and 222 for 7 Middlesex 502
Middlesex were in sight of victory and promotion at the end of the third day of their County Championship Division Two match against Leicestershire at Grace Road. Gareth Berg hit a career-best unbeaten 130 as Middlesex totalled 502 to secure a first-innings lead of 183 runs.
Then their bowlers took over leaving Leicestershire tottering on 222 for 7 by the close. Tim Murtagh dismissed both Leicestershire openers in his first two overs before offspinner Ollie Rayner took three for 32 as the home side crumbled in the evening session despite half-centuries from Greg Smith and James Taylor.
Middlesex now look set to clinch the victory that would send them up as Division Two champions. They began the day at 401 for 8 and added another 101 runs in 19 overs with Berg and Murtagh sharing a record ninth-wicket partnership of 172.
It beat the previous best of 160 set by Patsy Hendren and Jack Durston against Essex at Leyton in 1927. The runs came quickly against some erratic Leicestershire bowling with Berg reaching the second century of his career off 122 balls with three sixes and 11 fours.
Murtagh also enjoyed himself cracking nine boundaries on the way to his first half-century of the season. He finally succumbed, edging a delivery from Wayne White that provided wicket-keeper Ned Eckersley with his sixth catch of the innings, one short of the record held by Neil Burns against Somerset 10 years ago.
With a lead of 183 Middlesex made immediate inroads into Leicestershire's second innings with openers Matt Boyce and Will Jones back in the pavilion in less than three overs for the second time in the match. After striking two crisp fours in Murtagh's first over Boyce was out lbw to the final delivery.
Jones, out for a duck in the first innings, managed two runs before he too was trapped lbw by Murtagh leaving Leicestershire at 11 for 2. But a battling third-wicket stand of 121 in 34 overs between Smith and Taylor put the break on Middlesex's progress.
The two of them showed plenty of determination and concentration with Smith reaching his second half-century of the game with a glorious off-driven boundary against Steven Crook. Taylor also went to his 50 off 89 balls with six boundaries and the pair of them finally began to give Leicestershire some hope of staging a fight back.
But Smith was then trapped lbw by a quicker delivery from Jamie Dalrymple for 58 and although Taylor continued to look in good form wickets began falling at the other end.
Having reached 80 Taylor edged a short pitch delivery from Crook through to the wicket-keeper and Rayner bagged the wickets of Jacques Du Toit, White and Rob Taylor as the home side lost four wickets for 35 runs in the final session.