Leicestershire build big lead over Middlesex

Vitality County Championship Division Two, Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester (day two)

Leicestershire 179 & 311-8: Goldsworthy 75; Roland-Jones 5-76

Middlesex 86: Mike 5-22, Green 4-28

Leicestershire (3 pts) lead Middlesex (3 pts) by 404 runs

Match scorecard

Middlesex are facing a first defeat of the season in the County Championship after Leicestershire batted themselves into a commanding position on day two at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

Lewis Goldsworthy (75) and Ben Green (45 not out), who are both at Grace Road on loan from Somerset to boost a depleted squad, made their presence count as Leicestershire reached 311-8 in their second innings before rain forced an early end to play, with 37 overs lost.

Middlesex captain Toby Roland-Jones bowled superbly to finish with 5-76, but after being bowled out for 86 to concede a first-innings lead of 93 on a 21-wicket opening day, his side are 404 runs behind.

Resuming on 40-1, Leicestershire were 63-4 within the first 10 overs, which suggested another bowler-friendly day lay ahead.

But Goldsworthy and Harry Swindells added 101 for the fifth wicket, and with batting proving a little less hazardous Louis Kimber and Ben Cox put on 63 for the seventh, while Green’s unbroken partnership with Ben Mike stands at 71 going into day three.

During that initial flurry of wickets, Ryan Higgins brought his first ball back sharply from outside off stump to bowl Rishi Patel between bat and pad.

The uneven bounce in the pitch was then illustrated perfectly as Roland-Jones had nightwatchman Scott Currie leg before to one that shot through at ankle height before dismissing Lewis Hill with one that reared up off a good length, the ball striking the Leicestershire captain a painful blow on the hand before looping gently to second slip Leus Du Plooy, who had dropped him in the previous over.

Middlesex, 93 behind on first innings after being shot out for 86 on a chaotic opening day, sensed an opportunity to fight their way back into the contest but were not able to make another breakthrough until six overs after lunch when Swindells, who had functioned as the junior partner in what felt like the decisive stand of the match, edged behind off Henry Brookes.

One wicket then brought a second as Goldsworthy, his concentration disturbed by the day’s first stoppage for rain, departed four balls later, caught at slip off as he shaped to cut Roland-Jones.

Goldsworthy, on loan at Grace Road primarily for his left-arm spin in the T20 Blast, had been one of the few batters in the match to have the measure of the pitch, picking up the majority of his 13 boundaries square on the leg-side or else driven through extra cover.

Much as his demise was a blow for Leicestershire, it was not the end of Middlesex’s suffering as Kimber, confidence sky high after his extraordinary performance at Hove last week and undiminished by a first-innings duck here, came in to hammer 38 off 21 balls, including four consecutive sixes off Brookes, one of them out of the ground on the Milligan Road side.

Brookes had his revenge, bowling Kimber with a slow yorker, and Roland-Jones completed his 27th career five-for when he pinned Cox in front only for Green and Mike to stretch Leicestershire’s advantage beyond 400.

Although the pitch is offering less help to the bowlers than was the case on Sunday, it is difficult to envisage the match ending in a draw, barring a substantial loss of time to rain, which means Middlesex will need to make one of the highest-fourth innings scores in their history to win the match.

Report supplied by ECB Reporters' Network.