County Championship: Lancashire stay on top against Middlesex

LV=County Championship Division One, Old Trafford (day two):

Middlesex 194: Robson 86; Bailey 3-38; L Wood 3-52

Lancashire 132-3: Wells 65*; De Caires 2-27

Lancashire 3 pts, Middlesex 1 pt


Middlesex spinners Josh de Caires and Jayant Yadav shared three wickets to check Lancashire's progress on the second afternoon of the County Championship Division One match at Emirates Old Trafford - but Luke Wells' unbeaten 65 means that the home side remain in a dominant position.

Replying to the visitors' 194 all out, a total in which Sam Robson made a fine 86, Lancashire were 132-3 after bad light and rain had wiped out all but seven overs of the evening session, but the loss of three prime wickets for 16 runs at least gave Toby Roland-Jones' players some hope as they battle to avoid relegation.

In the first 90 minutes of the day, Middlesex added 62 runs to their overnight score of 132-8. Roland-Jones hit five fours in his 26 and put on 44 with Robson before he hooked Luke Wood straight to Wells at fine leg.

Robson went on to make a superbly determined 86 before he played on to a leg-spinner from Wells, thereby just failing to bat through a Middlesex innings for the second time in his career. His 341-minute innings, in which he faced 235 balls, had ensured that the visitors' first-innings total retained a degree of respectability.

Lancashire's openers, Wells and Keaton Jennings, began their side's reply with a flurry of boundaries, some of them fortuitous, but they had seen off the new ball by mid-afternoon, by which time the score was 80 without loss and home supporters could be fairly optimistic that their batsmen might build the sort of lead that would shape the remainder of the match.

However, Middlesex made their first breakthrough in the 24th over when Jennings came forward to De Caires' first ball of the day and was lbw for 29. Josh Bohannon tried to seize back the initiative by hitting the young spinner for a six over long-on but Lancashire's number three then made a fatal error when he made room to force a sharply spinning off-spinner from Jayant and was bowled for seven.

In the next over De Caires took his second wicket when Phil Salt played a shade inside a well-flighted delivery and was bowled first ball.

Having seen their side lose three wickets in little more than four overs, Wells and Dane Vilas set about rebuilding the innings and the pair took their side safely to 114-3 at tea, and added 18 more before the close of play.

Report supplied by ECB Reporters' Network.