Middlesex fight back late in the day to edge day two honours. 16thMay2019
Middlesex 349 Leicestershire 257-9
Specsavers County Championship Division Two
Day 2 Wednesday 15th May 2019
Peter Moore at Lords
Seasoned campaigner Ollie Rayner picked up four wickets in his return back to the side as the hosts closed the opening day in a good position.
33-year-old off-spinner Rayner remover both Leicestershire’s Harry Dearden and Colin Ackermann, who were threating to take the game away from Middlesex with a fifth wicket partnership of over 100.
Middlesex added a further 24 runs from their overnight total to be bowled out for 349. George Scott(55) added three when he edged Mohammad Abbas to second slip, with the partnership for the ninth wicket adding 62. Moments later the unlucky Ethan Bamber(1) was run out at the non-strikers end to end the home sides first innings within 35 minutes of the opening morning session, with Tom Helm undefeated on 37 and the Pakistani test bowler Abbas picking up 4 for 72.
In reply Leicestershire lost their first wicket with 12 on the board when Tom Helm had Ateeq Javid(1) lbw pinned on the back foot. On the stroke of lunch, Middlesex struck again when James Harris bowled Hasan Azad(21) to leave the visitors 62 for 2.
Bamber was rewarded for a fine spell of bowling by grabbing the first wicket of the afternoon session when the Leicestershire skipper Paul Horton(43) was smartly taken at second slip by Ollie Rayner. With just his second over of the afternoon, Rayner turned from assist into wicket taker by trapping Mark Cosgrove(28) lbw.
On an attritional afternoon session that saw Leicestershire make slow inroads into the Middlesex total, the visitors were indebted to an unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 76 between Harry Dearden39* and Colin Ackermann 44*- who was closing in on his half-century- as Leicestershire reached tea on 189 for 4.
With both batsman looking well set, it was Ackermann who was the first to reach his fifty after running the ball down to third man, with his half-century coming off 93 balls including seven fours. Shortly afterwards Dearden completed his fifty, which came off 87 balls with ten fours. The pair continued to frustrate Middlesex with the partnership yielding 110 when Dearden(61) drove at a delivery from Rayner and was brilliantly caught at short cover by Stevie Eskinazi, with the Captain throwing himself in the air and clinging on to the ball one handed. Rayner struck again by bagging the key wicket of Ackermann(63) after feathering a catch behind to leave the visitors 242 for 6.
It was turning out to be a good afternoon for Rayner- on his first appearance of the season in any form of cricket for Middlesex- when he took a fine low caught and bowled to pick up his fourth victim of the day, to finish with figures of 4 for 58.
Their was still time for the hosts to pick up another wicket when Ben Mike(5) tried to fend of a delivery from Tom Helm, but could only edge the ball behind to the last delivery of the day, as the visitors lost five wickets for 34 runs to close the day on 257 for 9, ninety two behind.
A delighted Rayner said after the game “I’m not a massive attacking spinner all the time in the first innings. I just tried to hold in there as best as I could”. He also praised his teammates “The boys at the other end bowled really well as well. It’s not easy out there, when the ball gets flat, you can dig in and get runs. The diving catch of Eskinazi gave us so much energy”.