The relegation dog-fight is going to go down tot he final round of the season...
MIDDLESEX v LANCASHIRE
Forgotten England paceman Steven Finn returned his first five-wicket Championship haul since April 2014 to steer Middlesex to a crucial 36-run win over Lancashire with a day to spare at Lord’s.
Finn bagged eight for 79 and nine in the match to help his relegation-threatened side to edge a close finish and post only their third win of a disappointing Championship campaign that extends the Middlesex fight against the drop into next week’s final round of Division One matches.
With fellow bowlers Toby Roland-Jones and Ollie Rayner out of the attack, both nursing side strains, it fell to 28-year-old Finn to lead the home attack on a Lord’s pitch that offered him plenty of assistance.
Chasing 221 for victory, Lancashire resumed on their overnight total of 46 for one but were soon deep in trouble after losing three wickets for 13 runs in the opening half hour.
Finn plucked out Liam Livingstone’s off stump and then trapped Steven Croft flush in front to win the lbw appeal with an off-cutter that virtually shot along the floor.
Wily seamer Tim Murtagh chipped in with the vital scalp of Shiv Chanderpaul. Playing back and across to one that pitched on and straightened, the veteran West Indies left-hander played outside the line leaving Neil Mallender little choice but to raise the trigger finger.
After taking almost 40 minutes to add to his overnight score, deposed England bat Haseeb Hameed moved on to 23 before taking a blow on the right-hand from Middlesex swing bowler James Harris. Haseeb received lengthy treatment in the middle but duly retired, to be replaced by Ryan McLaren.
There was a second injury of the session soon after when Rayner, the off-spinner, limped out of the attack having seemingly picked up an injury to his right knee, leaving Middlesex with only three, fully-fit front-line bowlers on the park.
Finn returned at the Pavilion End just before lunch to have Vilas (37) caught behind after gloving a leg-stump bouncer through to the keeper when attempting to hook.
Jordan Clark and McLaren emerged from the Pavilion to play with more positivity at the start of the mid-session, Clark driving straight against Murtagh then leaning back to steer a short one from Finn to the ropes at third man.
Finn had the last laugh however, drawing Clark into an injudicious waft outside off that Clark edged low to the keeper to make it 150 for six and give Finn his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket since he returned six for 79 against Australia in the 2015 Ashes series.
The red rose county continued to wilt as Tom Bailey worked across the line to a Harris in-swinger to go lbw then Adam Voges leapt two-handed at slip to catch Kyle Jarvis and gift Finn another scalp.
With Hameed still incapacitated, last man Matt Parkinson marched out to add 25 in tandem with McLaren (37) until the latter, in attempting to steer a short one from Finn over the cordon was superbly held one-handed by Rayner at second slip, who despite moving to his left, threw up his right hand to cling on to a stinging chance.
With 38 still needed Hameed, unbeaten on 23, emerged from the dressing room to bat again but Finn was not to be beaten. He dug one in to have Parkinson fence low to Voges at slip whose catch was upheld once the umpires conferred.
Middlesex banked 20 points for their victory, while Lancashire travelled home with only three after suffering their third defeat of the summer.
SURREY v MIDDLESEX
Somerset will almost certainly need to beat Middlesex in their final game to avoid relegation from Division One of the Specsavers County Championship after they again played second-best to Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Having conceded a first innings deficit of 164, Somerset were 113 for 4 in their second innings, still trailing by 51, when bad light and rain brought an early close with no play after tea.
The pitch is still good to bat on and much will depend on skipper Tom Abell and Steven Davies, who made 86 in the first innings, and were 11 and 15 not out respectively when play was called off.
Having dismissed Surrey for 433, Somerset lost Marcus Trescothick (1) in the last over before lunch when he drove airily at Sam Curran and edged to third slip.
Opener Ed Byrom was dropped on nine at slip by Kumar Sangakkara off Jade Dernbach but he and Surrey-born 19-year-old George Bartlett put on 53 for the second wicket before Stuart Meaker took two wickets during an excellent spell of fast bowling from the Vauxhall End. Bartlett (28) had just driven Meaker through the covers for four when he was lbw one which skidded onto his pads as he shaped to play into the leg side.
Surrey's Stuart Meaker said: "We're in a good position but there is still a lot of work to do. We've still got a bit of a lead and it was good to get them four-down before the rain. If we can bowl well tomorrow morning and get a couple of early wickets then we will be in a great position.
"I have toiled away in the last two games at the Oval. It has been tough conditions to bowl fast in so it was nice to get a couple of wickets and hopefully I can add to them tomorrow."
James Hildreth’s dismissal 15 balls later for 11 was almost identical as Meaker worked up a good head of steam.Skipper Gareth Batty then removed the obdurate Byrom for 39 with a ball which turned past his defensive bat out of the rough and knocked back the off bail.
At 98 for 4 the odds were on a three-day finish before the weather closed in. However, with Middlesex beating Lancashire it looks almost certain that Somerset will have to defeat Middlesex at Taunton next week to give themselves a chance of beating the drop a year after they finished runners-up.
Earlier, Sangakkara had raised his aggregate in 13 innings to 1,407 runs at an average of 117.25 before he was out for 157.The Sri Lankan tried to smear Abell’s medium-pace through mid-wicket but got a big top edge and Jack Leach, running from backward point, held on to an excellent catch. Sangakkara faced 238 balls and hit 20 fours and a six.
He shared in a seventh wicket stand of 99 in 26 overs with Rikki Clarke, who struck ten boundaries in his 50, including three in an over off Dom Bess, the off-spinner.
Clarke was run out by a direct hit from mid-on by Bartlett and Abell trapped Batty (5) lbw before Trego finished things off by bowling Meaker for a duck. That gave the all-rounder figures of 5 for 67, his best in the Championship since he took 7 for 84 against Yorkshire at Taunton three years ago.
Somerset Head Coach, Matt Maynard said: "The difference so far has been Sangakkara's knock. I thought we stuck at it with the ball yesterday and again this morning but it was a wonderful innings by him, it was beautiful to watch. He's got nothing else to prove in the game and it's a great to see a player of his quality go out at the top. He's had an unbelievable career and it was a great sign off.
YORKSHIRE v WARWICKSHIRE
Yorkshire held their nerve to come through another hard-fought day against Warwickshire and make inroads into a target of 175 on day three at Headingley, although they did lose three wickets. The White Rose still have work to do, but they are just about on course to secure a potentially relegation saving Specsavers County Championship victory having closed on 58 for three, needing 119 more.
The pitch is no minefield for the batsmen, although has offered assistance for seam and spin bowlers throughout the match added to swing. Should the hosts complete a 21-point win, it would be the ideal reposte to relegation rivals Middlesex’s three-day success against Lancashire at Lord’s.
Overcast but dry start to day three at Headingley. pic.twitter.com/vn6AFZKNbn— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) September 21, 2017
Somerset would then need to turn their game around against Surrey at the Oval to avoid going into next week’s final round as the favourites for the drop. They host Middlesex at Taunton, while Yorkshire travel to Chelmsford to face newly crowned champions Essex.
Steve Patterson was Yorkshire’s standout bowler today with a season’s best haul of four for 46 from 26 overs, including the wickets of Ian Bell and top-scorer Jonathan Trott for 59. Having endured a largely frustrating season through selection and loss of form, the 33-year-old was at his miserly best as the hosts prised out nine Warwickshire wickets. He claimed all four of his wickets today, while Tim Bresnan finished with three.
Warwickshire started day three on 49 for one, trailing by 28, and they advanced largely through captain Trott and Tim Ambrose’s 49. Their innings took a similar path to Yorkshire’s first innings in that a number of players got starts without converting. Opener Liam Banks hit 29, Matt Lamb added 25 and Alex Thomson 20.
Patterson struggled in last week’s high-scoring draw against Surrey at the Oval and had only taken 14 wickets in seven matches prior to this fixture. But this year’s Headingley beneficiary struck once in the morning and twice in an afternoon session which was interrupted by 20 minutes through rain, meaning the loss of one over from the allotted 96. He added his fourth after tea.
Jack Brooks made the initial breakthrough to get Banks caught behind before Patterson also had Bell caught by Andrew Hodd for 14, although via inside edge, as the score slipped 109 for three in the 36th over of the innings.Trott reached 50 off 72 balls just before lunch.
Trott was then the first of four afternoon wickets to fall when trapped lbw by Patterson, who got Lamb the same way shortly afterwards as the score fell to 161 for five after 58 overs, a lead of 84. Bresnan then struck three times in four overs either side of tea to really break the back of Warwickshire’s resistance.
He bowled all-rounder Thomson and had Ambrose caught low down at first slip by Alex Lees before the break.When he had Chris Wright caught at mid-off following a miscue after tea, the Bears were 230 for eight in the 78th over, a lead of 153. Patterson’s fourth came with the new ball when uprooted Jeetan Patel’s middle stump before Ben Coad had Ryan Sidebottom caught at second slip to wrap up the innings with his 50th first-class wicket of the season.
Yorkshire’s pursuit of their target was not without incident in the final 22 overs of the day as the visitors continued to fight hard. Adam Lyth was trapped lbw by Sidebottom and Lees edged behind off Patel as the score slipped to 25 for two. Ballance pulled Patel for six over mid-wicket before Kraigg Brathwaite was caught at short-leg off Patel in the day’s final over.
HAMPSHIRE v ESSEX
Fidel Edwards produced a brutal evening spell of fast bowling to take two vital wickets on a rain affected third day between Hampshire and Essex in the Specsavers County Championship.
West Indian speed demon Edwards bowled a six over stint of two for 15 after Dan Lawrence had calmly notched his third century of the season. The truncated day ended with Essex leading by 69 with five second innings wickets still in hand to set up an intriguing final day.
Only eight unproductive overs, with only 18 runs added, were able to be completed before rain washed out the majority of the day. But following a quick clean up from the groundsmen, play resumed at 5:20pm for a 12 over burst.
Having taken the new ball in the last two overs before the rain, Edwards stuck with just the third delivery after the re-start. Ravi Bopara had battled hard alongside Lawrence to put on 147 and drag Essex into a lead.
But the former England all-rounder edged to James Vince at second slip off a beautifully shaped away swinger. Lawrence rode his luck with plays and misses on day two, 45 of them according to Hampshire's analysts, but took to thick edges through third man to close in on his three figures.
He eventually completed his seventh first class ton from 207 balls with a firm push down the ground. But after facing just two more deliveries Edwards produced a ferocious bouncer to find the England Lions man’s glove to have him caught behind.
Jamie Porter entered with six overs to go as a night watchman and he, along with captain Ryan ten Doeschate negotiated Essex to the close without a further dismissal.