Ackermann and Dearden make fifties at Lord's

DAY 2 | Middlesex CCC 349 v Leicestershire CCC 257 for nine

SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE

REACTION | Leicestershire CCC batsman Harry Dearden spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps. The interview is available HERE

REPORT | Colin Ackermann and Harry Dearden each posted a half-century as the second day between Middlesex CCC and Leicestershire CCC maintained the theme of the first at Lord’s.

Played in glorious sunshine at the Home of Cricket, the teams continued to trade blows in an absorbing cricket contest where both have been on top for periods.

Batsmen have played well without going on to post a three figure score, while each team built their bowling effort around a respective four-wicket haul from Muhammad Abbas (four for 72) and Ollie Rayner.

Ackermann (63) and Dearden (61) almost doubled the Foxes score in sharing a sparkling 110 for the fifth wicket, but spinner Rayner dismissed both as the visitors closed at 257 for nine.

For Middlesex CCC, George Scott and Tom Helm put on a valuable 62 for the ninth wicket to see their side up to 349 all out. Chris Wright had a hand in both wickets to fall on the second morning.

The partnership between Scott and Helm passed 50 and the duo continued to frustrate the Foxes. There was an appeal for lbw as Helm shuffled across his wicket against Abbas, and he went on to pierce a boundary through the cover point region.

Wright made the breakthrough, although Ackermann also deserved credit for the way he nonchalantly took a difficult low chance to end Scott’s stay at 55.

It was some just reward for Wright, who beat the outside edge regularly and didn’t quite see the ball go to hand on a number of occasions throughout the first day.

The final wicket also owed to Wright’s quick thinking as he managed to divert a Helm drive back on to the stumps with Ethan Bamber (1) stranded.

Not only did Helm (37*) make a fine contribution with the bat, he then drew first blood in Leicestershire CCC’s first innings as Ateeq Javid (1) was leg before wicket.

Horton immediately looked in good form, finding the ropes at cover point, mid-on and fine-leg respectively.

No.3 Azad got himself settled and also found time to uppercut a six into the Mound Stand, while a cut from Horton raced down to vacant third man.

The off-spin of Rayner had its first airing before lunch, and a single gathered by Horton off James Harris took the alliance to 50.

But the Foxes suffered a blow to the final ball of the session as Harris defied the slope with a beauty, bringing one back to the left-hander from the Nursery End to finish his stay at 21.

Cosgrove immediately got into his stride with a booming cover drive and went on to hit a pair of glorious strokes rattling through mid-off.

Among those strokes though, he lost partner Horton (43), who attempted to cut Bamber down to third man but was well taken by a diving Ollie Rayner at second slip. Horton, who had played beautifully straight and gathered eight boundaries, deserved a half-century.

Cosgrove continued to look in fine fettle but fell on 28 after a change of pace. It was again Rayner in the action, the off-spinner straightening one from around the wicket to dismiss the batsman lbw.

The home side now had their tails up and it took a solid partnership from Ackermann and Dearden to stop them in their tracks.

Clever use of the sweep and reverse-sweep by Ackermann meant that Rayner wasn’t allow to settle into an economical spell in the middle session. When Rayner bowled a little shorter and wider to try to prevent the shot, Ackermann was quick to dispatch it to the point boundary with a punchy drive.

Rayner would later return to unsettle the Foxes, but the batsmen were well on top at this stage.

Dearden played three gorgeous early strokes through the off-side to move to 12 before hitting another couple of boundaries through the on-side. The positive approach meant that Rayner came out of the attack before tea, and the alliance was worth 76 at the interval.

Three notable landmarks came in quick succession in the evening session as Ackermann recorded 50 from 93 balls with his seventh four, a steer down to third man, Dearden notched his half-century (87b, 10x4), and the alliance then moved into three figures.

Middlesex CCC needed a moment of inspiration and it was provided by captain Stevie Eskinazi, who dived to pluck a one-handed catch to his left as Dearden was dismissed by Rayner.

The off-spinner struck another key blow as top-scorer Ackermann pushed forward and snicked to John Simpson.

Lewis Hill (14) was trapped right in front by Harris, and the on-song Rayner then took a good low return catch and suddenly Leicestershire CCC had gone from 223 for four to 246 for eight.

Ben Mike (5) and Wright (6*) saw off Rayner (four for 58) and then battled hard against the new ball, but the former was caught behind off Helm from what proved to be the last ball of the day with the Foxes trailing by 92.

FIGURES | Abbas 30-9-72-4, Wright 25.3-9-77-1, Taylor 6-0-26-0, Mike 17-2-95-2, Ackermann 15-1-53-2, Cosgrove 10-4-18-0.

TEAM | Horton (capt), Javid, Azad, Cosgrove, Ackermann, Dearden, Hill (wk), Taylor, Mike, Wright, Abbas.

Middlesex CCC | Robson, Holden, Gubbins, Lace, Eskinazi (capt), Simpson (wk), Harris, Scott, Rayner, Helm, Bamber.

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.