Lancashire v Middlesex: Red Rose keep survival hopes alive
|LV= County Championship Division One, Emirates Old Trafford|
|Close, day two: Middlesex 214, Lancashire 259-6|
|Lancashire 5 pts, Middlesex 2 pts|
Lancashire reached 259-6 on day two of their Division One relegation decider against Middlesex at Old Trafford to keep alive their hopes of survival.
The Red Rose must win and reach the 300-mark to earn a third batting bonus point, while ensuring that Middlesex do not claim a third bowling point.
Middlesex, all out for 214 on day one, looked to be on top when Jos Buttler fell for 23 to leave Lancashire 160-5.
But Steven Croft's 60 has given them a lead of 45 to keep them in contention.
The 29-year-old, who struck seven fours in his 132-ball innings, shared a stand of 61 with Luke Procter (37 no), before Glen Chapple (21 no) helped the hosts to see out the final 11.3 overs unscathed.
|How points are calculated|
|Batting and bowling bonus points are awarded for runs/wickets in first 110 overs of each first innings|
|200-249: 1 point||3-5 wickets: 1 point|
|250-299: 2 points||6-8 wickets: 2 points|
|300-349: 3 points||9-10 wickets: 3 points|
|350-399: 4 points||Draw: 5 points|
|400+: 5 points||Win: 16|
It means that, within the next 14 overs on day three, Lancashire now need to score at least a further 41 runs, without losing more than two wickets, to give themselves a chance.
If they did lose a third wicket, to leave them nine down (and Middlesex with full bowling points) they would then need to counter balance it by reaching the more unlikely target of 350 to claim a fourth batting point.
After Paul Horton was trapped lbw by Tim Murtagh in the seventh over of the second day, Ashwell Prince (48) and Luis Reece (45) guided the home side into a strong position at 98-1.
Both succumbed to Toby Roland-Jones (3-46) to spark a wobble, culminating in England wicketkeeper Buttler's dismissal by spinner Ravi Patel.
However, Lancashire's lower order have kept alive their ambitions of remaining in Division One. And they will start the penultimate day of the season with the task of picking up the required batting bonus points in the hands of Procter and captain Chapple.
Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince:
"The biggest thing now is for us to get to 300. That is our first target and we are just focusing on that, one ball at a time.
"300 does not guarantee that we will win the game. We still have to go and take 10 wickets.
"We can't leave our declaration for too long. Nobody knows what the weather is going to do."
BBC London's Kevin Hand:
"Lancashire continue to fight valiantly to overturn bonus points which would keep alive their hopes of safety with a victory.
"There is still something in the pitch and Middlesex will hope they can make the most of 10.30 September starts to take three more wickets in the morning.
"That would then mean that Lancashire would need the extremely unlikely 350 to take the relegation scrap further."