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Middlesex ease to victory over Leicestershire

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Middlesex chipped away at Leicestershire despite a lower-order fightback
LV= County Championship Division Two, Lord’s (day three)
Leicestershire 149 & 272: Mike 99*; Roland-Jones 3-67
Middlesex 370 & 52-0: Stoneman 30*
Middlesex (23 pts) beat Leicestershire (3 pts) by 10 wickets
Scorecard

Ben Mike was left stranded on 99 as his thrilling counter-attacking innings failed to save Leicestershire from defeat in three days at the hands of hosts Middlesex at Lord’s.

Mike followed his 4-15, 24 hours earlier, with a magnificent display of hitting, beating his previous career-best of 74, only to run out of partners one short of a richly deserved century.

His efforts took the visitors to 272 second time around and ensured Middlesex, who were a bowler light due to an injury to Tom Helm, had to bat again.

However, Toby Roland-Jones’ 3-67 meant the hosts needed just 52, a target openers Mark Stoneman and Sam Robson chased down in just over 10 overs to seal a second County Championship win of the season.

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Sensing their hosts were understrength Wiann Mulder started aggressively, pulling a Roland-Jones loosener for four and driving the next ball to the cover fence.

Ethan Bamber (2-48), so impressive the previous evening, made the early breakthrough at the Nursery End, finding a touch of away movement which caused Sam Evans to edge low to Peter Handscomb at slip.

The 23-year-old deserved more from an opening spell where he beat the bat with monotonous regularity, but Mulder and wicketkeeper Harry Swindells survived not only that stint but Shaheen Shah Afridi’s opening salvo too.

And when spin took over from one end, Mulder took toll of a rare loose ball from leg-spinner Luke Hollman to raise the 50 partnership.

Fate then smiled kindly on Middlesex as Roland-Jones returned to have an lbw shout against Swindells upheld when it seemed the ball was going over the top.

Mulder pressed on to reach 50 only to toss his wicket away soon after lunch hooking Afridi straight down the throat of Hollman at deep square.

His departure was the cue for Mike’s thrilling counter-offensive. Afridi bowled him some short stuff in retaliation for being on the receiving end of the same the night before, but the all-rounder promptly hooked him over the ropes at long leg.

Mike flailed the Pakistan international over cover for six as the 50 stand with Ed Barnes came up in 39 balls, forcing Afridi out of the attack.

A punch through mid-on took him to 50 from 57 balls before a scare on 62 when Bamber got one between bat and pad which somehow missed the stumps.

Barnes (32) proved a great foil in a stand that reached 98, ensuring Middlesex would have to bat again, before he played too soon at one from Hollman and lobbed a catch to short mid-wicket.

Mike though plundered on, passing his previous best of 74 and pulling a short one from Roland-Jones for six as the visitors inched ahead.

At the other end Callum Parkinson survived being struck by a return from the outfield but perished caught at slip off Roland-Jones and Chris Wright clubbed Hollman straight into the hands of mid-wicket with Mike two short of his century.

His mistake was to take a single, a decision he was to regret when last man Beuran Hendricks shouldered arms to Roland Jones who sent his off-stump cartwheeling out of the ground, cruel luck on Mike after a magnificent innings.

Middlesex captain Peter Handscomb:

“There is a lot to like at the moment. The last two games the ruthlessness of the team has been incredible and giving the opposition nothing.

“The fact we’ve won the last two games in three days, pretty much only had to bat once and bowled the house down is very pleasing.

“It does help having Shaheen Afridi coming in as the number one bowler in the world. That lifts everyone. He brings something different that we don’t have which is incredible.”

Leicestershire head coach Paul Nixon:

“Benny Mike showed real fight, attitude and will to win. He believed in himself, he got in the battle and his sheer bloody-mindedness to try and get the 185-190 lead we spoke about last night was there.

“He was challenged about 10 days ago about his attitude, his bowling, his batting and his preparation. Now we’ve seen some reward for that, but that’s one game. He has to go and do it again and do it again as good batsmen and good bowlers do.

“The reality is as a team we’ve played some poor cricket. We’ve been going after balls we shouldn’t be going after when we’re getting in. We’ve been nowhere near where we should be as first-class cricketers.

“Last year some guys were still young in their careers having played under 10 first-class matches. This year we’ve got more time in their legs and a few older heads on young shoulders. They are starting to own their games and know what they can and can’t do.”

Report supplied by the ECB Reporters’ Network.

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