Middlesex v Gloucestershire, Lord's, 2nd day

Udal keeps Middlesex in contention

April 28, 2010

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Gloucestershire 139 for 7 and 268 v Middlesex 203
Scorecard


Shaun Udal punches the air after reaching his half century, Middlesex v Gloucestershire, County Championship, Division Two, Lord's, April 28, 2010
Shaun Udal rescued his side with a half-century © PA Photos
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Runs were again hard to come by at Lord's where 13 wickets fell and pace bowlers from Middlesex and Gloucestershire exchanged blows on day two of this County Championship Division Two basement clash.

Having been dismissed for 203 to trail the visitors by 95 on first innings, Middlesex rallied in the final two sessions of the day to reduce Gloucestershire to 139 for 7 at the mid-point for an overall advantage in the match of 204 runs.

Resuming on their parlous overnight position of 71 for 4, the Middlesex top middle order struggled to cope against the impressive Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain who finished with 4 for 50 and 3 for 50 respectively.

Hussain made the first breakthrough of the day having Sam Robson held at third slip off a thick edged back-foot force then, with the score on Nelson's, Dawid Malan (25) was lured forward in defence by Jon Lewis only to nick to the keeper.

When all-rounder Gareth Berg (4) steered one to second slip off Kirby to make it 124 for 7 Middlesex were in real danger of missing out on a batting bonus point, but a vital, combative half-century from their skipper Shaun Udal - the only 50 of the day - enabled his side to edge past 200.

Udal, the oldest player in county cricket at 41, rode his luck and might have gone with his score on 13 and 14 when Chris Taylor, at point, then Hamish Marshall, off his own bowling, both dropped diving chances.

In tandem with John Simpson (42), right-handed Udal flourished in the face of a barrage of short-pitched bowling from the Gloucestershire attack. Udal hitting eight fours and a six off a top-edged hook into The Mound Stand, in a 72-ball half-century.

A leg-cutter from left-arm seamer James Franklin accounted for Simpson and it took a stunning, overhead catch on the ropes at deep mid-wicket by Abdul-Kadeer Ali to finally send Udal packing.

Unable to use the heavy roller after close-season changes to the playing regulations, Gloucestershire's batsmen were taking guard again just after 2.30pm on a pock-marked pitch that, left virtually untouched by the light roller, continued to assist the seamers.

For the second time in the game Kadeer Ali (1) was undone by a full-length off-cutter from Iain O'Brien then Jonathan Batty (22) reached for a Danny Evans out-swinger to feather to his opposite number Simpson.

Four overs after tea, first innings top-scorer Hamish Marshall fell for nine when he edged a steeply lifting ball from Gareth Berg to second slip as the Gloucestershire collapse gathered momentum.

In a flurry of four more wickets, Chris Dent (42) went to a catch at the wicket, Alex Gidman (28) played across a Tim Murtagh off-cutter to go lbw and the same bowler jagged one in off the seam to dismiss James Franklin (11) in the same manner.

Berg, who struggled to find his best line on the opening day, produced another vicious ball that reared up on Steve Snell who fend it off into the hands of Robson at short leg and go for a first-ball duck and a pair in the match.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 28, 2010, 23:42 GMT)

Two sides bursting with talent [by my count, for Gloucestershire Franklin, Marshall and Lewis have played Tests, Gidman and Kirby have played for England Lions; for Middlesex, Strauss, Shah, Udal and O'Brien have played Tests and Evans for England U19] who seem to have a collective crisis of confidence.

By all logic, 250 should be a comfortable chase for Middlesex, but I would have little or no confidence that they would manage it. In fact, there is a high probability that Middlesex will finish the first five rounds of Championship matches with a perfect record of five defeats. There is also a high probability, even if they can close out this game, that Gloucestershire may not win again for some while.

In the 1980s Middlesex could put out a side of 11 Test players who were the most powerful side in the land. Gloucestershire have been in the doldrums for a while, but this looks as bad as the awful season of 2008.

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