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Vithushan Ehantharajah at Lord's
June 12, 2013
Middlesex 16 for 1 trail Yorkshire 390 (Gale 103, Murtagh 3-93) by 374 runs
On another truncated day that saw 36.4 overs lost to rain and gloom, Andrew Gale and Adil Rashid did their best to light up proceedings with an impressive stand of 109 to move the game along in Yorkshire's favour. After waiting two years for a hundred, it seemed fitting the Yorkshire captain would bring up his second in the hyperbolic city of multiple buses.
Within 91 minutes of coming together, the pair had already put on 102 runs (roughly equating to 204 runs in one session) which leaves Yorkshire the more comfortable of the two sides going into the final two days.
Rashid has been enjoying an exceptional run of form since coming in to the side after injury to his good friend Azeem Rafiq. He was fortuitous today when, without a run to his name, Neil Dexter put him down at slip - his third drop in two games at this position - but he continued on with some exceptional shots.
He drove Tim Murtagh down the ground twice with great aplomb, before his wrists did the talking with a flick through midwicket that was timed to perfection. If the on drive is a sign of a high class batsman, the flick through midwicket is the neon beacon of an in-form one.
"I've always had good wrists," Rashid tells ESPNcricinfo. It's an Asian thing, he tells us - and we're inclined to agree - but it is something he has had to actively work at curbing to excel.
"I think before I relied on them a bit too much to score my runs. I certainly used to throw my hands at wide deliveries quite a lot and look for shots that weren't really there. But I can't be looking to flick the ball from outside off stump as I used to because of the wickets. Thinking like a top level batsman, you've got to play much straighter. Only when you're in and you get the right width or length can you resort to your instincts."
Work has been done to turn this talented legspinner into the fully fledged allrounder that those that have worked with Rashid from school to the international setup know him to be. A taste of international cricket as jet-setting drinks carrier and then, belatedly, a limited overs player whetted the appetite but left more confusion than a greater sense of worth: "You're around the team, then you're in, then you're out - it's not the easiest thing to deal with when you're 21, you know?"
But a winter of focus and a heightened sense of responsibility has abetted more relaxed mind-set for Rashid.
"Before I was quite tense because I didn't really have a routine," Rashid explained. "Previous seasons I would have batted at No. 7, 8 or even further down and probably obsessed more over my batting if I had a few bad knocks. Now I'm going in as a proper batsmen and it makes you approach things differently."
Such an approach was evident when Rashid returned from lunch and, essentially, sacrificed himself in pursuit of a fourth batting point in the 110th over. But his dismissal handed Middlesex a third point for their bowling exploits. Richard Pyrah went later that over and Andrew Hodd followed soon after, as four middle order wickets fell for just 32 runs.
Despite the bad light and rain, the game has progressed thanks to a jam packed opening session. Overnight centurion Alex Lees went for the first ball of the day when he pushed at a delivery from James Harris, who had spent the majority of day one nursing a side strain in the outfield. The decision to keep him on the field to recover was vindicated - any time off would have to be made up in full on his return - as he took three wickets to help see off Yorkshire's middle order.
But the rate at which the visitors scored runs has pushed them ahead in this match and much of the credit belongs to Andrew Gale and Adil Rashid. Yorkshire's collapse was clumsy, but they will just about get away with it.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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