Middlesex v Gloucestershire, Lord's, 3rd day April 29, 2010

Hussain takes Gloucestershire to the brink of victory

Middlesex 203 and 166 for 7 v Gloucestershire 268 and 223

Bad light denied Gloucestershire the chance of wrapping up their first win of the County Championship campaign over Middlesex at Lord's where the hosts go into the final day on 167 for 7.

When the sides trooped off under leaden skies at 5.40pm, the hosts were still 122 short in their pursuit of an unlikely victory target of 298 and understandably it was the buoyant visitors who seemed most perturbed by the decision of umpires Richard Kettleborough and John Steele to lead the players off.

Given fair weather on Friday, Gloucestershire will start firm favourites to secure their 23rd win in St John's Wood since 1879 and their second in successive seasons, should they do so, it will be largely thanks to the performance of their own 'East Ender', Gemaal Hussain.

Born barely a dozen miles from the home of cricket at Whipps Cross Hospital, the same maternity unit that helped the likes of David Beckham and Graham Gooch into the world, Hussain was forced to move away from East London to make his mark in cricket, initially for Leeds Bradford University and Nottinghamshire before his switch to Gloucestershire last year.

A muscular right-arm seamer, the 26-year-old revelled in the overcast conditions at Lord's to claim 4 for 36 inside 12 overs that thoroughly tested the Middlesex top order.

Batting 45 minutes before lunch after Gloucestershire had succumbed for 223 in their second innings, Middlesex made a bright start when England Test captain Andrew Strauss rocked back to pull a short one from Jonathan Lewis for six into the Tavern Stand.

The Gloucestershire seamer had his revenge in his next over when Strauss (9) again moved back aiming to force off the back foot through the covers only to drag the ball onto his leg stump off a thick inside edge to make it 37 for 1 at lunch.

Alex Gidman accounted for Owais Shah (16) four overs after lunch, caught throat high at first slip after a leaden-footed lunge away from his body and then Hussain came into his own to have left-hander Scott Newman (42) caught in the cordon after a similar, airy drive.

It took a much better delivery from Gidman, a lifting leg-cutter, to prize out Sam Robson (4) to a sharp low catch at second slip and, three overs later, John Simpson had his middle stump plucked out by Steve Kirby after he too played on.

In amongst the Middlesex batting debacle, the elegant left-hander Dawid Malan continued to go for his strokes and deservedly reached a 79-ball half-century with eight fours as he and Gareth Berg added 39 for the sixth wicket either side of tea.

Berg (24) nicked a leg-glance to keeper keeper Jonathan Batty to give Hussain his fourth victim of the day two overs after the resumption then, after the first break for poor light, Kirby ended Malan's 142-minute stay for 60 through another catch by Batty.