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RESULT
13th Match, Bristol, April 26 - 29, 2024, County Championship Division Two
203 & 449/7d
(T:331) 322 & 127/3

Match drawn

Report

Holden, Higgins turn the tables on Gloucestershire

Centuries from Division Two's leading runscorers drag Middlesex out of the mire and into a healthy 143-run lead

Max Holden celebrates after reaching three figures, Northamptonshire vs Middlesex, County Championship, Division Two, Wantage Road, April 14, 2024

Max Holden arrived at the crease with Middlesex 9 for 2 in their second innings  •  Getty Images

Middlesex 203 and 262 for 3 (Holden 105*, Higgins 102*) lead Gloucestershire 322 (Hammond 81, van Buuren 75, Brooks 3-55) by 143 runs
Centuries from Max Holden and Ryan Higgins dug Middlesex out of a hole on the third day of the Vitality County Championship Second Division match with Gloucestershire at Bristol.
Having conceded a first innings lead of 119 by bowling out their opponents for 322 from an overnight 271 for 6, the visitors slipped to nine for two in their second innings before Holden, Leus du Plooy (30) and Higgins launched a powerful fightback.
By the close, Middlesex had posted 262 for 3, Holden and Higgins sharing an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 183, and had a lead of 143, leaving all three results possible on the final day. Holden had faced 157 balls, hitting 14 fours and a six, while Higgins smashed 13 fours and three sixes in facing 120 deliveries against his former club.
Middlesex needed to make good use of the second new ball, available when play began an hour late due because of overnight rain, to restrict Gloucestershire's first innings lead on the hybrid pitch offering more bounce than usual at the Seat Unique Stadium. Ben Charlesworth, batting with Ollie Price as runner because of an ankle injury sustained on day one, produced two textbook straight drives off Tom Helm, while Zaman Akhter exploited the cover region.
The pair had extended their seventh-wicket stand to 71 when Akhter, on 27, tried one drive too many and was bowled by Helm failing to get to the pitch of a good length delivery. It proved Middlesex's only success in the hour before lunch, which was reached with Gloucestershire 314 for 7, 111 runs in front.
The hosts were unable to build at the start of the afternoon session as Henry Brookes struck three times in an over. Charlesworth started the slide attempting a big hit and only skying to mid-off where Holden took a fine tumbling catch.
Marchant de Lange swung in trademark fashion and also skied a catch off his third ball, wicketkeeper Jack Davies taking the catch, before Dom Goodman edged a catch to third slip to end the innings
Soon Gloucestershire's seamers were making inroads on a much livelier pitch than they have been used to operating on in home games. Nathan Fernandes had made only five when caught at mid-wicket pulling a short ball from Goodman.
It was 9 for 2 when Mark Stoneman departed for a duck, caught behind driving at a wide delivery from Ajeet Singh Dale and du Plooy came in to face a testing examination, edging his first ball from Singh Dale just short of the slip cordon.
In one over from Akhter, the Middlesex skipper needed treatment after being hit on a hand and was then struck again by the first delivery after resuming his innings. Another over from the same bowler saw him survive three confident lbw appeals.
Holden defiantly pulled de Lange for four then six as he and du Plooy gradually doused the Gloucestershire fire. But having helped take the total to 66 for 2 at tea, they added only 13 more before du Plooy, who had drawn applause from the bowler when hitting de Lange back over his head for a huge six, was brilliantly caught by Chris Dent at backward point to give Goodman a second wicket.
Holden moved to a priceless half-century off 83 balls and, together with Higgins, took Middlesex into the lead with seven wickets still in hand. Momentum was now with the batting side and when spin was introduced the pair first milked singles off Graeme van Buuren to increase the scoring rate and then went on the attack, Higgins hitting Price for a six and a four in the same over.
The sun was out and all venom had gone out of the bowling as Higgins marked his return to a former stamping ground by bringing up a chanceless fifty off 73 balls. On 62, he was dropped by van Buuren at mid-wicket off Price
Holden reached his ton off 151 balls, with 13 fours and a six and Higgins followed to three figures with a pulled six off Singh Dale. Now Middlesex will fancy their chances of a last-day declaration and an improbable victory.

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