Middlesex cling on despite Panesar five-for
Sussex 452 and 240 for 9 dec drew with Middlesex 350 and 204 for 8
England duo Eoin Morgan and Steven Finn batted out the last 12 overs as Middlesex held on for a draw against Sussex in Division Two of the County Championship at Uxbridge. Monty Panesar had looked to have put leaders Sussex on course for a dramatic victory as he took five wickets to help reduce Middlesex to 175 for 8 in pursuit of a target of 343.
But after England colleagues Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah both failed, Morgan dug in for over two and a half hours for his unbeaten 58 and got good support from Finn to frustrate Sussex, as Middlesex finished on 204 for 8.
The visitors had started the day 211 ahead with five remaining wickets but lost nightwatchman Lewis Hatchett in the sixth over to give Steven Finn his third wicket of the innings and sixth of the match. First innings centurion Luke Wright and Michael Thornely put on 86 for the seventh wicket in 21 overs, reaching their half-centuries off successive balls. Wright got there first with his taking 65 balls while in comparison Thornely's lasted three hours and 133 balls.
Thornely's stay came to an end soon afterwards when he chopped a ball from Neil Dexter onto his own stumps while Wright departed to the first ball he received after lunch for 62, trapped lbw by Shaun Udal. Udal then had Ollie Rayner caught on the boundary which prompted Sussex skipper Mike Yardy to declare on 240 for 9 and leave Middlesex chasing a target of 343 from a minimum of 58 overs.
England skipper Andrew Strauss began positively having made just eight in the first innings but was lucky to be given two reprieves by Sussex. First Rayner was unable to hold on to a difficult chance at second slip when Strauss was on 14 and then Matt Prior missed a tough stumping opportunity off Panesar when he was on 18.
Panesar also saw Lewis Hatchett put down John Simpson before three wickets fell in the space of 21 balls to give Sussex hope. Panesar trapped Simpson lbw as he padded up to a straight one and had Dawid Malan caught at short leg, while Owais Shah was caught behind for just 14 off part-time seamer Thornely.
Strauss's luck finally ran out when he was bowled by a quicker ball from Panesar for 37 to leave Middlesex in trouble at 89 for 4. Neil Dexter and Morgan looked to have ended Sussex's hopes of victory with a partnership of 71 in 23 overs but then Middlesex lost four wickets in seven overs to blow the game wide open again.
Dexter and Gareth went in the space of three balls to Rayner before Panesar picked up the scalps of Udal and Tom Roland-Jones to finish with figures of 5 for 89, but it wasn't enough.