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Hales leads Notts riposte

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Alex Hales narrowly missed out on a century as Nottinghamshire fought back on the second day of their LV= County Championship match against Middlesex at Trent Bridge.

Hales scored 96 and Samit Patel made an unbeaten 75 out of a total of 258 for four as the home side responded to Middlesex's first-innings score of 505.

Hales faced only 110 deliveries and hit 16 fours and one six before being adjudged lbw off Tim Murtagh.

Earlier Middlesex, resuming from 417 for five, had batted on for a further 85 minutes before losing their last five wickets for only 62. Eoin Morgan's highest championship innings finally ended at 191.

Andre Adams, Peter Siddle and Luke Fletcher all claimed three wickets for the hosts.

Nottinghamshire could only gather a second bowling point during the early part of the day, with Siddle ending a promising start by Paul Stirling, who flailed at a wide-looking delivery and nicked through to wicketkeeper Chris Read.

Fletcher had woken to figures of 0-98 from his first day's efforts but quickly improved his analysis by having Toby Roland-Jones caught at midwicket, before getting the prized scalp of Morgan, who gloved an attempted pull through to Read.

Steven Finn, playing his 100th first-class match, was pinned in front by Adams and last man Ravi Patel pulled Fletcher into the hands of James Taylor in the deep.

When Notts replied, they lost Phil Jaques in the 25 minutes before lunch but a second-wicket stand of 102 between Hales and Michael Lumb calmed home nerves.

Lumb, still without a half-century in the championship this season, got into the forties for the third consecutive innings but then had his off pole flattened by Finn.

Neil Dexter had played a starring role in the corresponding fixture in 2013, altering the match with a spell of 5-27. His introduction into the attack again caused concern as he found a way through Taylor's defences to bowl him.

Samit Patel found a welcome return to form after registering a pair in his last match, against Yorkshire at Headingley. Timing the ball sweetly, particularly off his hips and through the cover regions, he reached 50 for the seventh time this season, getting to the landmark from 80 balls, with 11 fours.

Riki Wessels was dropped by Joe Denly at midwicket, off Ravi Patel, on 16, before going on to reach stumps with an unbeaten 26 to his name, sharing in an unbroken stand of 94 with Patel.

By the close Notts had brought themselves to within 98 of saving the follow-on.

Hales was disappointed to miss out on a ton, but happy to be showing good form.

He said: "Obviously it's disappointing to get out in the nineties; it's happened to me a few times now in first-class cricket. I just hope that next time I'm in that situation I'll be able to get over the line, but overall I'm pretty happy with how I'm playing."

Morgan also went close to a landmark score, going nine short of a double-hundred.

"It's disappointing to get so close to a double-century and miss out but I'm delighted with my form at the moment. We think we're in a pretty strong position after two days but know it's going to be very difficult to take 20 wickets on that surface," said the Middlesex man.

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