Middlesex v Worcestershire, Lord's, 2nd day September 8, 2010

Shah nears farewell hundred

Middlesex 244 for 5 v Worcestershire 313

Owais Shah, in his final game for Middlesex, closed in on a farewell century at Lord's despite bad weather cutting short the second day of the County Championship Second Division match against Worcestershire. Shah was 70 not out when torrential rain ended play for the day at 4pm, having guided Middlesex to 244 for 5 in reply to Worcestershire's first innings 313.

Earlier, bad light had caused a late start at 10.55am. In between, however, the skies did brighten considerably - despite a forecast of rain at lunchtime - and Shah took the attack to Worcestershire once Scott Newman had been dismissed for an aggressive 78 from 91 balls.

Shah has featured in stands of 76 with Newman, 67 with Dan Housego and 46, so far unbroken, with his captain Neil Dexter, who is 26 not out.

Nightwatchman Steve Finn, who faced the one over possible before stumps on day one, was run out early on when Newman called him for an unnecessarily sharp single and John Simpson did not last long either, clipping Jack Shantry's left-arm swing to Moeen Ali in a deep leg gully position.

Newman was soon at his most fluent, however, pulling and square cutting Gareth Andrew for successive fours as he reached a 64-ball half-century just before lunch. For 10 overs after the interval, both Newman and Shah were irresistible.

Shah on-drove James Cameron's medium pace with huge authority for four, while Newman straight drove Alan Richardson for four and then, in the same over, punched him effortlessly off the back foot through the covers for another boundary.

Inexplicably, though, the left-handed opener - having hit 13 fours - then swung Cameron straight into the hands of Shakib Al Hasan at deep square leg, and Middlesex were 114 for 3. Dawid Malan, needing 10 for his 1,000th first-class runs this season, was out for 9 when he tried to flick Shakib's left-arm spin to leg and was adjudged caught off his glove as the ball lobbed up to wicketkeeper Ben Cox.

Housego, a 21-year-old batsman, played well in Shah's company for 32 until he went down the pitch to Moeen's off-breaks and flipped a simple catch to Vikram Solanki at backward short leg when the bowler saw him coming and fired it wide of his pads. Dexter was soon into his stride and had hit five boundaries when the rain came - one of them a fortuitous inside edge past Cox off an unlucky Cameron.

Shah, meanwhile, lifted Shakib straight for six and looked in a determined mood as he sought a 50th century for Middlesex in all cricket in what is also his 200th first-class appearance for the club he first represented as a 16-year-old in 1995. So far, he has faced 153 balls, hitting seven fours and a six.