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Vithushan Ehantharajah at Lord's
September 5, 2012
Lancashire 236 for 3 (Horton 64, Prince 57*) trail Middlesex 446 (Dexter 125, Berg 83, Chapple 5-86) by 210 runs
Lancashire, desperately trying to stave off relegation a year after winning the Championship, made amends for a sloppy first day in the field with a professional display with the bat at Lord's. But midway through the match, their task remained a daunting one as they faced a first-innings deficit of 210 runs, with seven wickets in hand.
After negotiating a tricky first half of the day, which began by wrapping up the Middlesex innings, Ashwell Prince and Paul Horton piled on the runs in the latter part of the day, sharing a partnership of 130 that owed as much to their patience and application as it did to Middlesex's tactical lethargy.
Neil Dexter added only two to his overnight score before Chapple had him caught behind. The Lancashire captain then accounted for the wickets of Toby Roland-Jones and Ravi Patel, to complete his five-wicket haul, while Ajmal Shahzad tempted Steve Crook (66) to edge an out-swinger to Horton at first slip.
This will not be one of Chapple's most memorable five-fors, but it helped to quell any lower-order resistance that would have further frustrated Lancashire.
Their reply started cautiously, reflecting the fact that they need to take as many points from this game as possible. Tom Smith took over opening duties from Horton, who had injured his hand dropping Crook two overs before he atoned for his error, and Smith managed to negotiate testing conditions to take Lancashire into lunch unscathed.
Collymore plugged away after the interval, pushing the ball across the two left-handers, drawing a couple of edges that fell short of the slips. Whenever he strayed onto their pads, he was tucked away for runs. The Barbadian tea-pot made several appearances.
This may well be Collymore's last game for Middlesex and there were moments when he seemed to give it his all. He was either putting in the effort in the hope of securing a new deal or looking to end his stay on a high.
At fine-leg, he had to be coaxed into drinking a protein shake handed to him by one of the Middlesex coaches. Eventually, he obliged, taking the flask on to the field with him, swigging from it between Gareth Berg's deliveries, leaving it on the field, behind him, when walking in. Five penalty runs were there if Procter and Smith wanted them, but instead they stuck to their leg glances, cuts and leaves to take Lancashire to 52 without loss after 20 overs.
Smith looked the more fluent of the two as he reached his half-century off 86 balls, while Procter dug in at the other end. However, both fell in quick succession. Procter gloved a Crook delivery that seemed to bounce more than he expected, while Smith fell to the left-arm spin of Ravi Patel.
Patel, a big turner of the ball, was happy to give it some air, using his quicker delivery sparingly. You would forgive a young spinner for settling for a flatter trajectory in a bid to get through his overs with minimal fuss, but Patel backed his drift, manipulating his line before having Smith stumped as he coaxed him out of his crease with a subtle change of length. Ashwell Prince and Horton set about seeing the day out, well aware that while Lancashire could not win the match in the evening session, they could certainly lose it.
Patel found himself under pressure holding up the Media Centre end, while Chris Rogers rotated Roland-Jones, Berg and Crook at the other end, to little effect. Roland-Jones will be particularly disappointed to have not made a dent in the Lancashire batting order after winning the FTI Most Valuable Player award for August. In the end it was Crook who broke the partnership, removing Horton, giving Karl Brown six overs to negotiate before close.
Provided Lancashire can get through tomorrow's morning session - the new ball will be available three overs - a first-innings lead is not impossible. But for that, they will probably need a big score from Prince.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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