Dexter cooks up response to Onions

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Neil Dexter

Neil Dexter returns to form at a handy time, striking 65 not out for Middlesex after they had been reduced to 28 for four by Durham

Neil Dexter marked his return to the Middlesex ranks with a valuable unbeaten 65 after Graham Onions had bowled Durham into a strong position on day two of the LV= County Championship match at Lord’s.

Dexter, who has temporarily stepped down as captain in a bid to rediscover his best batting form, responded superbly after coming to the crease at 28 for four.

His counter-attacking innings enabled Middlesex to reach 132 for five on a day when further rain disrupted proceedings. Onions, hoping to catch the eye of the England selectors, finished with figures of 3-24 from 13 overs, having swung the ball both ways at a healthy pace.

After winning the toss prior to yesterday’s washout, Durham made a strong start as Onions removed Andrew Strauss for a duck with the second ball of the day. England’s Test captain pushed forward to one that nipped back and lost his off stump.

In the helpful early conditions, Onions then had Joe Denly caught at first slip by Paul Collingwood for one, while Sam Robson drove at the first ball of the next over from Callum Thorp and edged to Michael Di Venuto at second slip.

It would have been two for four had Dawid Malan not survived a very confident lbw appeal from Thorp, who brought one back sharply into the left-hander. Umpire David Millns must have felt it was swinging enough to miss leg stump.

Malan continued to ride his luck, edging an attempted pull off Onions over the slips for four in reaching 25 before bad light halted play, followed by rain, with Middlesex on 57 for four at 12:40pm.

The other wicket in the morning session went to Mitchell Claydon with his first ball, Chris Rogers edging to Scott Borthwick at third slip.

Play resumed at 4:15pm, when batting was a little easier in bright sunshine, and Dexter stroked 10 fours - several of them through the covers - in a 66-ball half-century.

Malan twice drove Claydon to the cover boundary in the same over to reach 35 before Onions had him caught behind with a ball that started on leg and middle and swung away late.

Bad light, again followed by heavy rain, then ended play at 5:20pm.

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