Middlesex v Warwickshire, Uxbridge, 2nd day August 2, 2012

Westwood leads Bears fightback

Warwickshire 178 for 2 (Westwood 89*) trail Middlesex 402 (Malan 106, Woakes 4-84) by 224 runs

Middlesex were left to rue two dropped catches at Uxbridge where title challengers Warwickshire continue to grind their way back into the match.

Left-handed third-wicket partners Ian Westwood and Jim Troughton both received a life during an unbroken stand worth 152 that has helped the visitors cut Middlesex's first-innings lead to 224 at the mid-point of the game. Westwood will resume tomorrow needing just 11 runs for his century while Warwickshire captain Troughton was unbeaten on 60.

In their pursuit of the Middlesex first innings total of 402, Warwickshire lost Varun Chopra for 3 and Will Porterfield for 12 bringing Westwood and Troughton together at 2.30pm to bat together for the remainder of the day.

Tim Murtagh, on his 31st birthday, made good use of the new ball by snaring Chopra leg before then getting one to lift on Porterfield, who steered it to short midwicket to see Neil Dexter pull off a fine catch diving to his left and make it 22 for 2. But it was to prove the final taste of success for Middlesex on a bright, yet breezy Thursday afternoon as Warwickshire set out their stall to bat for the rest of the day.

Troughton should have gone with his score on 2 when he fenced at a Murtagh lifter only for Ollie Rayner to down a regulation chance at second slip. Troughton went on to post a 129-ball half-century with seven fours, while Westwood reached the landmark from one more ball.

Westwood received a blow on the left temple when on 55 after a Toby Roland-Jones delivery squeezed between helmet peak and grille. He received ice pack treatment for five minutes, but continued. He too received a let off soon after when Rayner, diving to his left at backward square-leg grassed a difficult opportunity, allowing Westwood to march past his season best score of 70 just before stumps.

The day began with Middlesex batting through to the cusp of the lunch break in order to add 78 to their overnight score for their last three wickets. Both Rayner and Roland-Jones fell quickly, caught behind the wickets off Chris Woakes to give Tim Ambrose five dismissals and Woakes final figures of 4 for 84.

It was then that Murtagh, clearly fuming at being demoted to bat at number 11 for the first time in his career, then joined forces with Steven Crook to add 72 for the final wicket. Crook took one chance too many and holed out to midwicket to leave Chris Wright with worthy figures of 4 for 92.

The Middlesex duo were just a run short of equalling the Middlesex last wicket record against Warwickshire set by Walter Robins and Jack Durston at Edgbaston in 1925, but at least Murtagh had enjoyed his birthday bash for an unbeaten 36.