Lancashire bow to third Championship defeat of 2017
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 Specsavers County Championship campaign that extends the Middlesex fight against the drop into next week’s final round of Division 1 matches.
With fellow bowlers Toby Roland-Jones and Ollie Rayner out of the attack, nursing side and knee injuries respectively, 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 Toby 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 Haseeb 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 Haseeb, 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 one low to Adam 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.