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Bailey takes five wickets but Middlesex fightback

Bailey takes five wickets but Middlesex fightback

Fifteen wickets fell during an all-action opening day that despite its thrills and spills fell short in terms of application and technique as Division One rivals Middlesex and Lancashire crossed swords in the Specsavers County Championship at Lord’s.

Responding in the day’s third session to a Middlesex all-out total of 233, Lancashire went in at stumps on 113 for five after 34 overs - still trailing by 120 runs.

Having dismissed the hosts inside 62 overs and two sessions, Lancashire went out after tea to lose both openers to consecutive deliveries and with only 22 on the board. Haseeb Hameed was trapped lbw by Toby Roland-Jones, then, to the first ball of Tim Murtagh’s next over, Alex Davies padded up to a straight one to also go leg before.

Dane Vilas scored only five before a shooting Murtagh off-cutter crept between bat and pad to rearrange the stumps, then Steven Finn enticed Liam Livingstone with a short one well outside off that the right-hander cut straight into the hands of Nick Compton at backward point.

Red rose skipper Steven Croft and ‘crab-like’ veteran Shiv Chanderpaul dug in for 10 overs in adding 39 until Roland-Jones returned at the Pavilion End to have Chanderpaul well held in the cordon by Voges for the final wicket of the day. Moreover, Roland-Jones left the field for treatment soon afterwards.

The day started with two surprise decisions by Middlesex who, after dropping their skipper James Franklin, then elected to bat first after acting captain Adam Voges won the toss.

Having seen extensive cracks to the surface of this Lord’s pitch, Voges clearly didn’t fancy the task of batting last. Yet, going in first hardly proved a walk in the park either as the hosts skid to 28 for four.

Compton’s miserable run of form continued with a second ball duck to the eighth ball of the game. Jumping back and across his stumps and working to leg, the deposed England opener missed to be sent packing lbw to Ryan McLaren.

The South Africa all-rounder struck again in his third over, dismissing Sam Robson with a lifting leg-cutter that Robson duly followed and feathered to the keeper Davies.

Stevie Eskinazi fenced to third slip against Tom Bailey, who also accounted for Dawid Malan on the cheap. Caught on the crease, the left-hander came down late on a ‘fourth stump line’ delivery that slid through the gate leaving umpire Neil Mallender to uphold the appeal for caught behind. Malan trudged off shaking his head and clearly believing he had missed it.

Dropped on 12 by Davies off the bowling of Bailey, John Simpson combined with fifth-wicket partner Voges to add 52 either side of lunch before the latter, prodding half-forward and outside the line of an off-cutter, went lbw for 18.

McLaren struck next, setting up James Harris perfectly with a brace of big out-swingers followed by an off-cutter that trimmed the top of off stump as Harris shouldered arms.

Bailey enjoyeD a fourth victory when Simpson, on 29, top-edged an attempted pull for Davies to sprint toward backward square leg and pull off a spectacular, full-length diving catch.

Middlesex were allowed to wriggle off the hook somewhat when Lancashire’s seamers lost their radar for an hour or so, enabling Ollie Rayner and Roland-Jones to counter-punch with an eighth-wicket stand worth 102 that took the hosts to the brink of their sole batting bonus point.

The introduction of Matt Parkinson’s leg-spin hardly fazed the pair as Roland-Jones cantered to a 68-ball 50 with 10 fours. But, soon after the England all-rounder missed a leg-stump ball from Kyle Jarvis to be sent packing lbw by umpire Martin Saggers.

Bailey claimed a fifth scalp when Finn played across an angled delivery, but Rayner continued to thrive in reaching his half-century from 71 balls and with seven boundaries. He was unbeaten on 52 when last man Murtagh, having slogged feisty 18, miscued to mid-on to give McLaren four for 63, figures that were only bettered by Bailey with five for 54.

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