Denly guides Middlesex to a draw

Durham 259 & 240-6 dec drew with Middlesex 196 & 165-6

Joe Denly scored a vital innings of 73 as Middlesex survived a tense final session to secure a draw.

Durham declared in the afternoon on 240-6, setting Middlesex an unlikely 304 to win in 51 overs.

A clatter of wickets in the evening session gave the hosts a sniff of possible victory.

But Denly was unmoved and he ensured Middlesex batted out to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

The rain that had wiped out most of the third day had given way to sunshine, with Durham resuming on 89-1, a lead of 152.

Middlesex knew they needed to get early wickets and Gareth Berg obliged when he had Keaton Jennings caught in the slips for 35.

But Scott Borthwick and Will Smith took Durham’s lead past the 200 mark with a stand worth almost 50.

It was ended by Toby Roland-Jones, who took his first wicket of the match when he dislodged Smith and then had new batsman Ben Stokes out cheaply.

That left Durham on 154-4, 217 ahead, but they couldn’t remove Borthwick, who posted his half century just before lunch.

The afternoon brought more joy for Middlesex as Durham skipper Paul Collingwood fell for 18 and Phil Mustard went quickly while the hosts tried to up the tempo.

Borthwick, who finished unbeaten on 82, added 40 with Gareth Breese and the declaration arrived when the Durham lead nudged past 300.

Middlesex needed to score at six an over to threaten an unlikely victory but the main focus was on not losing wickets.

One fell as early as the second over, Sam Robson out lbw to Calum Thorp, but Chris Rogers and Denly calmed the nerves with a steady partnership beyond tea that looked to have kept Durham at bay.

However Rogers’s dismissal for 52, followed by the loss of Dawid Malan, left Middlesex on 106-3 and further wickets gave Durham a slim chance of victory.

Graham Onions, the key threat in the first innings, had Neil Dexter caught behind and followed it up with the wicket of John Simpson as Middlesex wobbled on 129-5 with an hour to play.

But although Gareth Berg fell late on with the score on 158, Middlesex held firm, led by the defiant Denly, and the draw was agreed in the 51st over.




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