Dexter shows form as Warks duck challenge
Middlesex 402 and 104 for 3 (Dexter 45*) lead Warwickshire 324 (Westwood 111, Murtagh 4-77) by 182 runs
Middlesex's Neil Dexter will hope to complete his maiden half-century of the Championship season at Uxbridge on Saturday where the hosts go into the final day of a turgid game on 104 for 3, with Dexter five short of his landmark.
Division One leaders Warwickshire showed little or no enterprise in the opening two sessions of day three, scoring only 12 boundaries in the final 61.5 overs of their second innings as they reached 324 all out for a first innings deficit of 78. In stark comparison, Middlesex bashed nine fours in as many overs at the start of their reply before the loss of three quick wickets forced them to throttle back in the final hour.
On a slow pitch of variable bounce, batsmen on both sides struggled at times for fluency, especially so against the new ball. Having made 95 first time around, Middlesex opener Joe Denly aimed to drive a full, swinging ball from Darren Maddy only to edge to the wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose and go for 16.
Chris Rogers reached only 13 when he was snared leg-before by Chris Wright then, fresh from a century in the first innings, Dawid Malan succumbed to the spin of Jeetan Patel to leave the hosts wobbling somewhat on 93 for 3. Eoin Morgan, in possibly his last appearance of the season for Middlesex, and Dexter, the club captain, then dug in to see their side through to stumps with an overall lead of 182.
With their noses barely ahead of Nottinghamshire in the race for the Championship title, Warwickshire supporters might have expected their side to force the pace as they resumed on their overnight score of 178 for 2.
With Ian Westwood and Jim Troughton well ensconced in a third-wicket stand that had already added a hundred, the visitors were seemingly well placed to push on. However, once Troughton fell without addition to his overnight 60 and Westwood soon after completing his 317-minute century, the game simply dissolved into a war of attrition.
Tim Murtagh, the pick of the bowlers on display, finished with 4 for 77 and Dexter, who bowled a full length and allowed the ball to swing, also chipped in with 2 for 16. Warwickshire finally succumbed just before tea, but by then many supporters had already turned to the pavilion television and the Olympics for some much-needed entertainment.