Lord's victory bid denied by weather
DAY 4 | Middlesex CCC 349 and 223 drew with Leicestershire CCC 268 and 226 for five
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
POINTS | Middlesex CCC 11 points, Leicestershire CCC 10 points
REACTION | Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Paul Nixon spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps. The interview is available HERE
REPORT | The elements ruined the final day of the absorbing Specsavers County Championship game between Middlesex CCC and Leicestershire CCC, meaning that the Foxes had to settle for a draw.
There were 16 overs lost in the first four stoppages, which badly affected Leicestershire CCC’s momentum in pursuit of the 267 runs required on the final day, and the final 18 overs also fell by the wayside with the victory target of 79 runs well within in reach.
Leicestershire CCC set an extremely solid platform at 226 for five as they looked to chase down 305. The total was based around Colin Ackermann’s sparkling unbeaten 70 and several other valuable contributions.
But the in-form Ackermann was cruelly denied the chance of three figures at the Home of Cricket, and had he reached that landmark, the Foxes would almost certainly have taken more than the ten points claimed from the contest.
A stop-start final day was agonising given both teams had earned the right to have the full 96 overs in pursuit of victory after three tight, intriguing days.
Leicestershire CCC resumed at 38 without loss and it is fair to say that conditions were not favourable for batting from the outset.
Skies were grey compared to the first three days of glorious sunshine, there was a hint of rain in the air - albeit nothing forthcoming at that stage - and the floodlights were both elevated and turned on.
The ball predictably moved around more than at previous stages of the match, and Javid and Horton had added three runs in the opening four overs when the players left the field for the first time due to bad light.
Umpires Martin Saggers and Ian Blackwell monitored from the middle, and four overs were lost before the players re-emerged from the Long Room.
Javid guided his first boundary upon the resumption, and the partnership passed 50 in the 21st over before Middlesex CCC made their first breakthrough.
James Harris, replacing the economical Ethan Bamber from the Pavilion End, nipped one down the slope to trap Javid (12) in front.
Young quick Bamber then switched to the Nursery End to positive effect by dismissing Horton (36) in the same manner.
It was a key phase of the game and Mark Cosgrove was determined to be positive, hitting former Glamorgan CCC teammate Harris for a boundary through square-leg.
There was a change of tack as lunch approached with Ollie Rayner having his first bowl in the second innings, while Harris was still causing problems from the Pavilion End with movement and occasional bounce.
Harris enticed Azad into a rare stroke outside off stump but the chance could not be grasped by Sam Robson at first slip, and the left-hander took full advantage by collecting boundaries through backward point and mid-off from the next two deliveries.
Azad then lofted Rayner towards cover but the ball escaped the grasp of fielder Nick Gubbins, and Leicestershire CCC lunched at 97 for two as Cosgrove drove Harris with élan to the cover boundary.
The Foxes suffered another blow when Cosgrove (22) was lbw to Rayner for the second time in the match, but Ackermann immediately looked in fine fettle.
Ackermann produced two drives through the on-side off the seam of Harris and was again prepared to utilise the sweep against Rayner, a successful tactic from the first innings.
The duo had taken 30 off the target when a combination of rain and bad light again took the players from the field - three more overs were lost.
Ackermann picked up where he left off with glorious drives through mid-on and the covers, but with the duo on 30 apiece, the rain arrived again and knocked off another brace of overs.
After the stand passed 50, Azad (33) was unfortunate to receive a Harris delivery that kept low from the Pavilion End, and was the fourth batsman in succession to be dismissed lbw.
Dearden looked to take the attack to Rayner, but in doing so lofted the ball between a triangle of fielders at short extra, cover point and mid-off. It just about dropped to safety as Bamber dived forward.
The left-hander went on to strike Rayner for six, and the target was down to 123 at tea with 33 overs remaining but another delay for rain meant that seven further overs were lost.
Ackermann moved to his second 50 off 71 balls (7x4), the 200 came up after 70.2 overs, and a pulled four by Dearden took the alliance to 50 and the target into double figures.
However, the left-hander was then bowled by Helm for 21, bringing Lewis Hill (7*) to the wicket. He and Ackermann kept chipping away, with the set batsman playing a beautiful cover drive and lap sweep that both went for four off Rayner in the 74th over.
But with the target at a manageable level despite the previous breaks, rain again arrived alongside dark grey clouds to bring about a frustrating conclusion to what had been a fascinating game. All told, the Foxes will take plenty of positives from a spirited performance, both individually and collectively, as well as the ten points.
FIGURES (1st inns) | 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.
FIGURES (2nd inns) | Abbas 19-8-31-1, Taylor 19-3-74-3, Wright 18-4-51-3, Mike 5.4-1-30-2, Ackermann 13-1-34-1.
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.