DAY THREE - CLOSE OF PLAY

Warwickshire 2nd Innings: 74 for 3

Middlesex will begin the final day against Warwickshire at Edgbaston needing seven wickets to take a huge stride towards lifting their first Specsavers County Championship for 23 years.

While nearest challengers Yorkshire were held up by the weather in Southampton, up in Birmingham Middlesex advanced to a position from which they would be devastated not to close out victory.

Warwickshire closed the third day on 74 for three in pursuit of the target of 338 set by the Division One leaders when they declared their second innings at 267 for seven at tea. Half-centuries from Sam Robson (74, 218 balls, five fours) and Stevie Eskinazi (53, 108 balls) underpinned Middlesex batting which was largely unhurried despite the possibility of rain-damage on the final day.

They have backed their bowlers to feed again upon the fragility evident in Warwickshire's first-innings batting when their last eight wickets disappeared for 50 runs.

Those bowlers duly removed the top three - Varun Chopra, Ian Westwood and Jonathan Trott - before the close to leave Warwickshire requiring a massive salvage operation in which they will look to captain Ian Bell, unbeaten on 12 overnight, for the backbone.

Resuming on the third morning on 61 without loss, Middlesex lost two quick wickets as Nick Gubbins (46, 68 balls, six fours) fell lbw to Jeetan Patel and Nick Compton's middle-stump was plucked out by Keith Barker.

Dawid Malan edged Patel to wicketkeeper Alex Mellor but Robson and Eskinazi batted in measured fashion to add 97 in 33.4 overs before, with tea looming, a belated attempt to increase the tempo brought a flurry of wickets for the spinners.

Robson swept Patel to deep square-leg and Eskinazi was bowled by Josh Poysden who also castled Toby Roland-Jones (21, 17 balls) and had John Simpson caught at deep gully.

The young leg-spinner finished with three for 80 for match-figures of eight for 133. Chasing 338 in a day and a session, Warwickshire soon lost Chopra who edged Roland-Jones to Robson at slip.

On a used pitch which has assisted spinners throughout, the slower bowlers were soon operating and both quickly struck. Ravi Patel's 19th ball trapped Trott lbw and Rayner won a leg-before against Westwood to acquire his sixth wicket of the match.

Bell and nightwatchman Chris Wright saw it through to the close but Middlesex left the field knowing they had taken a big stride towards securing a huge victory.

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DAY THREE - TEA

Middlesex 2nd Innings: 267 for 7

Middlesex slowly tightened their grip on their Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire as they reached 267 for seven at tea on the third day at Edgbaston. Sam Robson (74, 218 balls, five fours) and Stephen Eskinazi (53, 108 balls, five fours) lifted their side's lead to 337 at tea - a commanding position with their spinners ready to get busy on a turning pitch in the fourth innings. Despite a weather forecast which suggests Warwickshire's rearguard action tomorrow may be abetted by some rain, Middlesex opted for mostly gradual advance through the afternoon.

They resumed after lunch on 129 for three and Robson and Eskinazi took their stand to 97 in 33.4 overs before both perished as they sought quicker runs against the spinners. Robson swept Patel to Varun Chopra at deep square-leg and Eskinazi was bowled by Josh Poysden. As the lower order hit out, Poysden also bowled Toby Roland-Jones (21, 17 balls) and had James Franklin caught at deep gully.

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LUNCH

Middlesex 2nd Innings: 129 for 3 ( lead by 199)

Sam Robson led the way as Middlesex spent the first session of the third day making solid progress towards setting Warwickshire a daunting victory target in their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.

The Division One leaders, leading by 70 on first innings, extended their overnight 63 without loss to 129 for three at lunch, 199 ahead overall, with Robson unbeaten on 43 (158 balls, four fours).

On a turning pitch they are in a commanding position, though they do need to be cognisant of a weather forecast which includes the possibility of some rain tomorrow.

Middlesex lost two wickets early this morning as Nick Gubbins (46, 68 balls, six fours) fell lbw to Jeetan Patel and Nick Compton, with just a single to his name, had his middle-stump spectacularly uprooted by Keith Barker.

Dawid Malan edged Patel to wicketkeeper Alex Mellor but Robson took root and added an unbroken 30 up to lunch with Stevie Eskinazi.