County Championship: Middlesex draw with Lancashire to take nine-point lead

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Old Trafford
Dawid Malan
Dawid Malan top-scored with 87 in Middlesex's second innings
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Emirates Old Trafford, day four
Middlesex 327 & 240-8 dec: Malan 87, Simpson 74; Kerrigan 6-86
Lancashire 259 & 80-1: Buttler 26; Finn 1-20
Lancashire (9 pts) drew with Middlesex (11 pts)

Middlesex will need to win their final match against Yorkshire to guarantee a first County Championship title since 1993 after drawing with Lancashire.

Set 309 from 44 overs, Lancashire ended the chase after makeshift opener Jos Buttler was out for a 14-ball 26 and closed on 80-1 at Old Trafford.

Middlesex earlier declared on 240-8, Dawid Malan top-scoring with 87.

Lancashire will need 11 points from their final match against Warwickshire to ensure relegation is avoided.

Middlesex hold a nine-point advantage over second-placed Yorkshire, who visit Lord's next week.

A draw, or a Yorkshire win, could let in Somerset, who play bottom club Nottinghamshire at Taunton.

Division One table

That neither side was able to force victory was down in part to an increasingly flat pitch and two moments involving Lancashire's Buttler.

The first came when John Simpson, on eight, edged Tom Bailey to offer a very difficult chance, one that the wicketkeeper could not take in his left hand.

Simpson (74) and Malan went on to share 151, taking Middlesex from their third-evening position of 55-4 to relative safety.

Malan eventually edged Simon Kerrigan behind, one of six wickets for the left-arm spinner, before Middlesex declared to leave Lancashire a fanciful target.

Buttler's promotion to the top of the order showed that the hosts briefly entertained chasing the victory that would have guaranteed their safety, the England wicketkeeper going through his whole repertoire of strokes.

But, after he got a leading edge off Steven Finn to be caught at cover, Rob Jones and Haseeb Hameed saw Lancashire through.

By the time hands were shaken, first-innings centurion Jones had passed 500 minutes at the crease in the match without being dismissed.

Lancashire cricket director Ashley Giles told BBC Radio Lancashire:

"It was a good fightback. We didn't bowl well on the first day, or field well. We showed a lot of character from there.

"Had Middlesex not been in such a tight position maybe they would have given themselves a bit more time to bowl us out.

"I'm delighted with some of the individual performances, but this was the story of the season. We need to start better, and get into games quicker."

Middlesex captain James Franklin told BBC Radio London:

"It's dangerous to want and need a draw. We want to beat Yorkshire. Nothing changes just because it's the last game.

"There is potential of nice rewards at the end of it. We have one more hurdle to get over. We have a huge week ahead. We need to be clear with our thought processes and go again.

"We had a tricky morning this morning to contend with, and Malan and Simpson did a great job. It was a team effort. That's why we are in the position we are in."

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