Lancashire enjoyed an excellent day of batting in the sun at Lord's today as they replied to Middlesex's first innings 446, keeping their hopes of clinching an impressive LV= County Championship win alive
Tom Smith, Luke Procter, Paul Horton and Ashwell Prince all contributed after Glen Chapple had started the second day of four by completing his first five-wicket haul of the season in this competition.
The Red Rose county closed on 236-3 from 77 overs of their first innings with Prince unbeaten on 57 and Karl Brown on five not out, still trailing by 210.
Lancashire’s excellent performance with the bat came about following a change in their batting order. Smith was moved up from number six to open the batting with Procter, meaning regular opener Horton was moved down one to number three.
After Smith and Procter (30) shared 95 inside 37 overs for the first wicket, the county’s highest opening partnership of the 2012 Championship campaign so far, Horton and Prince continued the good work either side of tea with a stand of 130 inside 34 overs for the third wicket.
The pair were initially forced into a rebuilding job after Procter and Smith fell in the space of seven balls to Steven Crook and left-arm spinner Ravi Patel without addition to the scoreboard, leaving them at 95-2 in the 38th over.
But they quickly settled and got the board moving with some eye-catching strokes all around the wicket on a good pitch that is expected to become more spin-friendly as the match progresses through tomorrow and Friday.
They took advantage as Middlesex’s attack strayed in the latter stages of the day to confirm a first batting point and their 100 partnership. It was just a shame that Horton edged Crook behind with six overs of the day remaining.
“If we can get a win here with them getting 450 first, it would be an amazing achievement. But we’re backing ourselves 100 percent,” said Smith, who also admitted his frustration at not being able to capitalise on his start and go on to record a hundred at Lord’s.
“It was a good day for us. We came back and bowled them out within the first hour and a half of play and applied ourselves with the bat on a good pitch. We’ve put ourselves in a strong position, and I’d say it’s honours pretty even at the moment.
Lancashire also enjoyed a profitable morning session with the ball, particularly skipper Chapple as he clinched a five-for with three of the last four wickets to fall after Middlesex had started the day at 389-6. Ajmal Shahzad took the other wicket to fall.
Chapple had Neil Dexter caught behind for 125 before Shahzad had Crook caught behind for 66. Chapple then wrapped up the innings by bowling Toby Roland-Jones and Patel to finish with 5-86 from 27.5 overs.
The visitors also have to keep an eye on events across the River Thames at the Oval where rivals Surrey are on top in their match against Nottinghamshire after two days. Lancashire have to match Surrey’s result in order to avoid dropping down to Division Two with a week of the season still to go.
“We’re keeping an eye on what going on (at the Oval) because we have to,” added Smith. “But as long as we take care of our job here, what happens there is irrelevant.”
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo (c) Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport