Leicestershire 36 for 3 v Middlesex
Middlesex picked up three wickets in the 11 overs that were possible on the third day of their County Championship match against Leicestershire at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road.
Constant heavy rain having forced play to be abandoned without a ball being bowled on each of the first two days, there was a certain amount of surprise when, after Herculean efforts by the ground staff but with the outfield still damp, umpires Steve O’Shaughnessy and Ulhas Gandhe decided it was possible to start play at 3.10pm, with 48 overs to be bowled.
After Middlesex exercised the away team’s prerogative to bowl first, seamers Tim Murtagh and Tom Helm were understandably tentative in their opening overs, but even so the visitors made a quick breakthrough when Leicestershire captain Paul Horton, having squeezed a Murtagh delivery into the leg side, was slow to respond when opening partner Hassan Azad called him through for a quick single.
Leicestershire’s captain was well short of his ground when George Scott, running in from midwicket, turned and threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
The left-handed Azad picked up a couple of neat fours off his legs off Murtagh, but Sam Evans, making his first first-class appearance of the season, had no answer to a Murtagh delivery that seamed back in to the young right-hander and hit the top of off-stump.
Middlesex then ensured that from their point of view the 11 overs had been worth playing when Helm found the edge of Mark Cosgrove’s bat and captain Dawid Malan held a fine catch two-handed high to his right at third slip to secure a bowling bonus point.
Bad light closed in soon afterwards, and the forecast for the fourth day was extremely poor but, in recent years’ championships, promotions and relegations have been decided by a point. Middlesex may yet come to look back on four otherwise hugely frustrating days in the East Midlands fondly.