Close, day three: Nottinghamshire 423 & 22-3 v Middlesex 300-9d
Spinner Ollie Rayner scored his first century for Middlesex to lead the fightback and avoid the follow-on on day three at Trent Bridge.
The former Sussex man, in his first full-season with Middlesex after two successful loan spells during the 2011 campaign, was brought in as nightwatchman after Andrew Strauss fell as one of three wickets on Thursday evening.
And he took the initiative to bat through the day after Joe Denly fell for 35 in the third over of Friday morning.
The 26-year-old reached an unbeaten 143 before Chris Rogers declared 123 runs short of Nottinghamshire’s first-innings total.
And then Rayner bagged two late wickets with the new ball to set up an exciting final day.
Resuming on 53-1, Denly added just three runs to his score before he clipped to Alex Hales off an Andre Adams delivery and was out for 35.
But his wicket marked the beginning of an excellent partnership between Rayner and Dawid Malan in which they dug in their heels to take a combined 119 runs from 243 balls.
After seven well taken boundaries Malan was trapped lbw for 46 as Harry Gurney picked up his second wicket of the innings.
Rayner brought up his century around 40 minutes before the tea interval – only the second century of his career after previously making 101 for Sussex.
But he witnessed Neil Dexter caught by Adams off of Graham Swann and John Simpson dismissed by Gurney before the second interval was taken.
Gareth Berg lasted 11 overs after tea before his wicket put Middlesex eight down for 271, but the follow-on was saved when Rayner caressed to the boundary for four in the 99th over of the innings.
The declaration was made after Tim Murtagh’s wicket fell and the third extra batting point taken.
Murtagh took the new ball to Notts but it was Rayner who made the breakthrough, dismissing Hales for 12 and then nightwatchman Swann for a duck, while Steve Finn also dismissed Neil Edwards for four.