Shah shines for Essex

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Owais Shah

Owais Shah looked in splendid touch in making 96 against his former county. Essex trail by 150 runs with three wickets in hand

Owais Shah failed by just four runs to mark his first-class debut for Essex with a century in their LV= County Championship Division Two clash against Middlesex out at Chelmsford.

Playing against his former county following his Indian Premier League commitments, Shah was denied a deserved hundred when Corey Collymore had him caught behind.

The former West Indies seamer struck again moments later to remove Graham Napier as Essex closed the second day on 235 for seven in reply to Middlesex’s 385.

Shah always seemed to have more time to play his strokes than his colleagues in an innings that brought him 14 fours and a pulled six over midwicket at the expense of Anthony Ireland.

His only blemish before he was dismissed came on 77 when he hooked Ireland to fine-leg, where Collymore failed to hold on to a difficult chance as he dived forward.

Tim Murtagh and Gareth Berg were responsible for putting Essex on the back foot as they shared the first five wickets to fall.

Murtagh extracted enough life from the pitch to get rid of openers Jaik Mickleburgh and Mark Pettini before the 50 was raised and soon afterwards Berg accounted for Ravi Bopara.

He had just a single to his name when he guided a simple catch to Sam Robson in the slips.

Berg then trapped Matt Walker lbw for six before Adam Wheater produced several punishing leg-side strokes in an innings of 39 before the return of Murtagh ended a partnership of 65 in 21 overs.

That dismissal paved the way for James Foster to take part in another half-century stand before Collymore returned to tip the balance firmly in Middlesex’s favour.

After he had Shah caught behind by John Simpson, he removed Napier leg before in his next over. Essex remain 150 adrift and their hopes of achieving parity or better rest largely on Foster, who will resume on 44.

Murtagh has so far taken 3-61 in 19 overs, while Berg and Collymore boast figures of 2-40 and 2-47 respectively.

Earlier in the day, Middlesex added a further 69 runs after resuming on 316 for six.

Opener Robson added just 10 to his overnight 136 before 17-year-old Reece Topley trapped him lbw. His innings spanned just under seven hours, during which he faced 317 deliveries and struck 15 fours.

Left-arm paceman Topley also picked up the wicket of Berg, while Napier, thanks to his deeds yesterday, finished with 5-56, his first five wicket-haul for three years.

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