County Championship: Tim Ambrose leads Bears fightback

Tim Ambrose
Warwickshire's Tim Ambrose is 16 runs away from a 15th first-class century
LV= County Championship Division One, Edgbaston (close, day three)
Middlesex 207: Dexter 53, Stirling 41; Patel 5-59
Warwickshire 224-8: Ambrose 84 not out, Chopra 44; Murtagh 4-41
Warwickshire lead by 17 runs with two first innings wickets standing
Match scorecard

Warwickshire wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose made an unbeaten 84 at Edgbaston to help his side earn a first-innings lead on the day when Middlesex's outside title hopes were all but ended.

Having resumed on 21-1 chasing Middlesex's total of 207, the Bears slumped to 86-6 in the morning session despite 44 from skipper Varun Chopra.

But Middlesex could only claim two more wickets in a day ended by bad light.

Ambrose was aided by Keith Barker's 30 as the hosts closed on 224-8.

The pair put on 87 for the seventh wicket before Barker's miscued reverse-sweep off spinner Paul Stirling, and Jeetan Patel quickly followed when he edged to the slips to give Tim Murtagh a fourth victim.

But Ambrose was still not done, adding a further 50 with Chris Wright (16 not out), to steer the Bears into a 17-run overnight lead.

Good completion rate for Ambrose
Tim Ambrose passed 50 in the County Championship for the third time this season. On the previous two occasions, he went on to reach his century - against Hampshire in April and his former county Sussex in July.

Many of the former England wicketkeeper's best innings for his county have been played at a time of jeopardy for his team, and again his application steered Warwickshire into a more comfortable position.

The first-day washout, allied to further weather interruptions, has probably cost too much time in terms of a decisive result.

But the pitch is turning and, if the Bears can add more runs on the fourth morning to bolster their slender lead, Patel could yet cause Middlesex problems.

For Middlesex, on a day when Division One leaders Yorkshire won to all but clinch a second successive title, there was deep frustration after taking five wickets inside the first 25 overs of the day - including three for Murtagh inside 16 balls without conceding a run.

Warwickshire wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose told BBC WM 95.6:

"The pitch has played its part in making it an entertaining game, which low-scoring games often are.

"At 86-6, it was just a case of trying to absorb a bit of pressure and then hopefully put a bit back on them later in the day.

"Then there were a couple of breaks which gave us a chance to regroup and we tried to be a little bit more positive after that.

"It was quite hard going at times but we have just got our noses in front and any kind of lead will give us the chance to hopefully bowl them out tomorrow and knock off what we need."

Middlesex fast bowler Tim Murtagh told BBC London 94.9:

"It was a bit of an up and down day. We were happy to get them 86-6. We then let them off the hook a bit, but credit to Tim Ambrose. He got his head down and batted pretty well.

"Every now and then there is something in the pitch and I got a couple of wickets with balls that bounced which seemed to come a bit from nowhere.

"The spinners are playing a big part. The pitch is very dry and is turning and I think will get worse as the game goes on.

"It was a shame the light deteriorated towards the end and we couldn't finish the innings off but we will come back fresh in the morning."

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