Gareth Berg ton leaves Middlesex on brink of promotion

LV County Championship Division Two, Grace Road
Close, day three: Leicestershire 319 & 222-7, Middlesex 502
Middlesex 8pts, Leics 5pts
Match scorecard
Live commentary
LV County Championship

Gareth Berg hit a career-best 130 not out as Middlesex ended day three of their clash with Leicestershire on the brink of securing promotion.

Berg and Tim Murtagh (55) set a new Middlesex ninth-wicket record of 172 as they helped their side from 401-8 overnight to 502 all out.

James Taylor (80) and Greg Smith (58) then led the Leicestershire resistance with a third-wicket stand of 121.

But they slipped to 222-7 by the close, a slender lead of 39.

If Middlesex go on and complete victory they will go up as Division Two champions, while a draw will also be enough to see them promoted alongside Surrey, with Northants missing out.

Berg and Murtagh were central to them claiming a first innings lead of 183 as their ninth-wicket stand beat the 160 set by Patsy Hendren and Jack Durston against Essex at Leyton in 1927.

Murtagh then quickly made inroads into the Leicestershire batting line-up, trapping both Matt Boyce and Will Jones lbw to leave them 11-2.

Taylor and Smith showed plenty of determination to keep Middlesex at bay, but once they departed on-loan spinner Ollie Rayner claimed three scalps in quick succession to leave Leicestershire teetering.

CLOSE OF PLAY SUMMARY

BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand:

"Middlesex remain in a strong position in the match but bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire have pushed them all the way and a late twist can not be ruled out.

"Ned Eckersley made a century in the first knock and Middlesex must be wary of the young Ealing batsman, on trial at Grace Road, leaving them with a tricky chase on the final day.

"A win will see Middlesex claim the Division Two title, while a draw is enough for them to go up in second place behind Surrey, but with the time left in the match a result is surely going to be claimed by one of these sides, and a defeat would see Northants claim the second promotion spot.

"Gareth Berg produced an outstanding display with only his second first-class century, as he and Tim Murtagh set a new record for Middlesex's ninth wicket."

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