Rayner puts Middlesex on verge of victory

Close, day three: Hampshire 176 & 195-7 lead Middlesex 330 by 41 runs

Ollie Rayner starred with both bat and ball to put Middlesex in position for victory after they dominated the third day at Lord’s.

The 29-year-old first completed a half century, his best score in the Championship since last May, as the home side secured a healthy first-innings lead of 154.

And then after James Harris had taken three wickets to leave Hampshire in major trouble, Rayner ran through the middle order during the evening session as he took 3-1 in 29 balls.

The visitors closed on 195-7, leading only by 41, with ex-Middlesex all-rounder Gareth Berg not out 18.

Middlesex, resuming on 298-8, added 32 to their overnight total with Rayner contributing 18 before he was the last man out.

Hampshire openers Jimmy Adams and Sean Terry put on 44 for the first wicket but Harris sparked a top-order collapse as he struck with the last ball of his fourth, sixth and seventh overs, leaving the score on 56-3.

Terry went on to make 52 and shared in a 50 partnership with Will Smith before being trapped lbw by Tim Murtagh just after tea.

Adam Wheather struck 50 off just 45 balls in a counter-attacking stand with Smith but both fell in consecutive Rayner overs, and the off-spinner also bowled Joe Gatting as Middlesex sensed victory.


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