DAY FOUR - CLOSE OF PLAY

LANCASHIRE 259 & 74-1

MIDDLESEX 327 & 240-8

Despite briefly flirting with a dart for victory through a Jos Buttler cameo, Lancashire held on for a draw against Middlesex at Old Trafford. As a result, Middlesex lead the County Championship by nine points from Yorkshire, their opponents in the final round. Somerset, who are a point behind Yorkshire, face Nottinghamshire at Taunton. 

Resuming on the final day with a lead of 140, David Malan and John Simpson’s stand of 151 provided the backbone of Middlesex’s second innings 259 for eight declared, which set up a chase of 309 from 44 overs. 

Malan and Simpson had come together with their side wavering on the third afternoon, but had dug in to reach stumps and it was more of the same against high quality bowling from Simon Kerrigan (who finished with 6-86, and match figures of 10-166) and Kyle Jarvis. Both batsman waited for the bad ball, and made it through the morning session unscathed, recording elegant half-centuries.  

Malan, having smacked the Lancashire captain Steven Croft down the ground for six, reached his half-century from 128 balls, with five fours. Simpson, playing busily and repelling impressive turn from Liam Livingstone’s leg-breaks, brought up his own 50 with a cover driven four off Kerrigan, from his 150th ball. 

Both fell as Middlesex looked to push on after tea. Malan reached 87 before edging behind trying to cut Kerrigan, while Toby Roland-Jones sliced to point and James Franklin was caught at long-on, also both to Kerrigan. Simpson fell shortly before the declaration arrived, bowled by Luke Procter. 

Lancashire opted to promote Buttler, England’s interim ODI captain, to open the batting ahead of Haseeb Hameed. Buttler was immediately into his work, carving his first and third balls (from Steven Finn) for four through the off-side, and unfurling an array of ramps and scoops. After nine balls, he had 24, while his partner Rob Jones - a first innings centurion - was still on 0.

But Buttler tried to flick Finn to leg and was caught by Nick Compton at cover, departing with all 26 Lancashire runs to his name. From there, Jones, 20, and Hameed, 19, dropped anchor and batted out impressively for the draw. There were some dashing strokes, particularly from Jones down the ground to Ollie Rayner, while Hameed nudged and nurdled until Middlesex captain Franklin offered a handshake at 4.30pm. Both batsmen ended with 25 as Lancashire reached 80-1.

Middlesex took 11 points, and Lancashire nine, which takes them to fifth place, 14 points above Hampshire, who are eighth. Lancashire face sixth-placed Warwickshire at Edgbaston from Tuesday.

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TEA

LANCASHIRE 259 & 34-1

MIDDLESEX 327 & 240-8 (dec)

The promotion of Jos Buttler to open the batting briefly set alight Lancashire’s pursuit of 309 from 44 overs against Championship leaders Middlesex at Old Trafford. 

Buttler smote his way to 26 from 14 balls, including a series of remarkable scoops and scythes through the off-side, before a leading edge off Steven Finn found its way to Nick Compton at cover. Buttler's dismissal appeared to signal the end of Lancashire’s dart for victory as the young openers Rob Jones, the first innings centurion, and Haseeb Hameed dug in to reach tea on 34-1.

Earlier, Dawid Malan and John Simpson scored half-centuries in sharing 151 as Middlesex ground their way to 240-8 declared. Simon Kerrigan ended up with 6-86 as he had Malan caught behind for 87, Toby Roland-Jones caught at point, and James Franklin taken at long-on. Simpson was bowled by Luke Procter a couple of overs before the declaration arrived.

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LUNCH

MIDDLESEX 327 & 167-4
LANCASHIRE 259

Dawid Malan and John Simpson both scored half-centuries as the Championship table-toppers Middlesex built their lead on the final morning against Lancashire at Old Trafford. By lunch, the pair had shared 112, and the lead had swelled to 235. 

Resuming on 72-4, progress was slow first thing for Malan and Simpson in the face of some probing bowling from Kyle Jarvis and Simon Kerrigan, but the batsmen soaked up deliveries and grew into their innings to give their side a chance to set up a declaration. Malan, having smacked the Lancashire captain down the ground for six, reached his half-century from 128 balls, with five fours. Simpson, playing busily and repelling impressive turn from Liam Livingstone’s leg-breaks, brought up his own 50 with a cover driven four off Kerrigan, from his 150th ball. 

 Middlesex, including the six bonus points they have earned from this match, currently sit four points ahead of Yorkshire (who they face at Lord’s next week) and five ahead of Somerset.