Brown and Cross put Lancs on par

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Half-centuries by Karl Brown and Gareth Cross helped relegation-threatened Lancashire to a big total on the third day of their crucial LV = County Championship encounter against Middlesex at Lord’s.

The visitors established a two-run first-innings lead on 448 all out thanks in part to the sixth-wicket duo, who added 77 runs in just 13 overs to reignite Lancashire hopes after being reduced to 270 for five with the dismissal of Ashwell Prince for 71 by Toby Roland-Jones.

At stumps, Middlesex were 129 for two in their second innings, a lead of 127 heading into the final day.

Lancashire’s efforts in establishing a slender lead will boost their hopes of avoiding the drop to the second tier, but they may well need a generous declaration by Middlesex tomorrow to have any chance of fighting for the victory they will need to preserve Division One status if Surrey push home a strong position against Nottinghamshire.

Gareth Cross

Gareth Cross struck eight fours and a maximum in a blistering 59 as Lancashire established a slender two-run first innings lead at Lord's

The Red Rose looked in trouble when Brown was joined by Cross shortly after Prince departed with the visitors still 176 behind, but the new man led a recovery as he careered to his second consecutive championship half-century in only 30 balls.

Cross fell for 59 shortly after lunch when caught behind trying to run a Gareth Berg ball to third man, before Lancashire's fourth batting point was claimed in the same over.

The tail supported Brown in finding another 101 runs until he played on off Berg to be the last man out for 78.

Ravi Patel, the 21-year-old left-arm spinner making only his third championship appearance of his debut season, also played a big role in mopping up the Lancashire tail.

He had Kyle Hogg caught at mid-on for 10, removed Glen Chapple for 29 courtesy of John Simpson's second stumping of the innings, and trapped Ajmal Shahzad lbw for 10 to return 4-126.

Lancashire’s attack made a bright start to the Middlesex second innings, raising hopes that they might not have to rely on a declaration tomorrow.

Chapple made the breakthrough in his second over, sending down a brutal inswinger to trap Sam Robson lbw for three.

Middlesex’s lead stood at just 42 when they lost their second wicket with 19 overs in the day remaining, Joe Denly bowled off an inside edge by Shahzad for 16.

But that was as good as it got for Lancashire, who ended the day frustrated as Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan reached the close with 57 and 37 respectively.

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