Rogers and Malan call the shots
Centuries by Middlesex batsmen Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan, the latter’s unbeaten, turned the heat back on title-chasing Warwickshire in a fluctuating LV= County Championship match at Edgbaston.
The Division One leaders added 40 more runs from their last two wickets for a handy lead of 46 when they were dismissed for 333 and Chris Wright struck twice in three overs before Middlesex cleared the deficit.
It was then that Warwickshire began to labour in their search for a win to help them hold off fast-finishing Sussex in the race to land their first championship since 2004.
Rogers made 109, his third hundred of the season, and Malan, his partner in a stand of 203, hit 16 fours in an unbeaten 138 as Middlesex closed the third day on 351 for five, a lead of 305.
Statistics continued to spill over from a drawn meeting between the sides earlier this month. Malan, who scored 106 at Uxbridge, has now equalled Warwickshire opener Ian Westwood’s achievement of scoring a century in each match.
Blemishes were few and far between as Rogers and Malan, both left-handers, gave the home side’s weakened attack a grilling through 47.3 overs together.
They badly missed Chris Woakes, who is away with England’s one-day squad, and all-rounder Rikki Clarke is still unable to bowl because of a side strain.
For a while it seemed that Wright’s pace might shake up Middlesex. Sam Robson edged his second ball to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose and the catch that Clarke held from Joe Denly was quite exceptional.
Any goalkeeper would have been impressed by his leap above crossbar height to pull down a thunderbolt at second slip. Only a man of Clarke’s stature, all of 6ft 4in, could have reached such a chance.
From there the day went sour for Warwickshire. When they needed a breakthrough, they simply could not find one against two batsmen who were intent on rolling along at better than four runs an over.
Rogers, on 23, may have been a trifle lucky when an uppercut off Boyd Rankin only just cleared Keith Barker at third man and Malan, on 70, nicked a ball from Ian Blackwell through the vacant slip position.
Otherwise they advanced on cruise control until Rankin gave Warwickshire a lift immediately following tea. Rogers, after hitting 15 fours and a six, was attempting to cut when caught at slip and Will Porterfield held a sharp chance from Dexter in the gully.
Rankin’s best spell of the match brought him a third wicket in 21 balls when Adam Rossington holed out to deep square-leg, but Gareth Berg steadied Middlesex with his first half-century of the season.
The all-rounder even outpaced Malan with 53 not out from 70 balls in a stand so far worth 99.