County Championship: Middlesex on top but facing final-day Edgbaston rain threat

Middlesex and England batsman Sam Robson passed 50 in the Championship for the sixth time this summer
Middlesex and England batsman Sam Robson passed 50 in the Championship for the sixth time this summer
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Edgbaston, day three
Middlesex 242 & 267-7 dec: Robson 74, Eskinazi 53; Poysden 3-80, Patel 3-92
Warwickshire 172 & 74-3
Warwickshire (3 pts) need 264 more runs to beat Middlesex (4 pts)

County Championship leaders Middlesex need a further seven wickets to beat Warwickshire on day four at Edgbaston.

However, their hopes of moving closer towards a first title since 1993 may depend on the rain that is forecast in Birmingham on Saturday.

Sam Robson made 74 and Stevie Eskinazi 53 as Middlesex moved their overnight score on from 63-0 to declare on 267-7.

Set 338 to win, Warwickshire closed the third day on 74-3, with home skipper Ian Bell at the crease on 12.

He was joined for the final six overs by nightwatchman Chris Wright, who 10 not out against his former county.

On a turning pitch on which Bears leg-spinner Josh Poysden took his haul of wickets in the game to eight, Middlesex look to be in a commanding position but for the poor weather forecast.

Middlesex began the match five points clear of second-placed Yorkshire, who are on top against Hampshire but were restricted to only 19 overs of play on Friday because of bad weather.

If both games are drawn, Yorkshire would edge a point closer, having picked up one more batting point.

Warwickshire captain Ian Bell told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

"Today was about character and fighting and about how much it means to us and we showed all that. The bowlers were exceptional, they ran in really hard and made it hard for Middlesex to push on.

"It is going to be extremely hard for us. I haven't won a toss in the Championship this year, which doesn't help, and we are playing on a used pitch, so it was a hell of a good toss to win and we are on the back end of that.

"We have got to show some character and bat as long as we can. There might be a bit of bad weather around but we can't rely on that. We have just got to look to bat for 96 overs.

"No excuses. I don't think we have been good enough again in this game. It's been a common trend this season and probably the back end of last season as well.

"It hasn't been quite right for a while and we need to address that. It's a question of consistency. On paper we are a fantastic side but one day we are fantastic and the next day we don't back it up. We need to get that consistency you need to win championships."

Middlesex batsman Sam Robson told BBC Radio London:

"We've had a good day. We were in a strong position this morning, so it was just a matter of having a good first session and going from there.

"It was tough work most of the day and a bit of a grind on that wicket, but to get the score we got and then take three wickets was very pleasing.

"We had a target we wanted to get to before we accelerated because we knew that it's the sort of pitch where if you lose one wicket you can lose two, three or four quickly.

"There is a little bit of weather around so that had a little bit of a bearing. We feel we have got enough runs. But they are a really good side and, with Ian Bell at the crease, we are going to have to bowl very well."

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