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Middlesex chase down easy target for 10-wicket win over Leicestershire

Middlesex 370 (Stoneman 108, Simpson 71, Hollman 45, Mike 4-15) and 52 for 0 (Stoneman 30*, Robson 22*) beat Leicestershire 149 (Helm 3-23, Shaheen 3-54) and 272 (Mike 99*, Mulder 58, Roland-Jones 3-67, Shaheen 3-93) by 10 wickets

Ben Mike was left stranded on 99 as his thrilling counter-attacking innings failed to save Leicestershire from defeat in three days at the hands of Middlesex at Lord’s.

Nottinghamshire-born Mike followed his 4 for 15 the previous day with a magnificent display of hitting, beating his previous career-best of 74, only to run out of partners one short of a richly deserved century.

His efforts took the visitors to 272 second time around and ensured Middlesex, who were a bowler light due to an injury to Tom Helm, had to bat again.

However, Toby Roland-Jones‘ 3 for 67 meant the hosts needed just 52, a target openers Mark Stoneman and Sam Robson chased down in just over 10 overs to seal a second LV = Insurance County Championship win of the season.

Sensing their hosts were understrength, Wiaan Mulder started aggressively, pulling a Roland-Jones loosener for four and driving the next ball to the cover fence. However,

Ethan Bamber, so impressive the previous evening, made the early breakthrough at the Nursery End, finding a touch of away movement which caused Sam Evans to edge low to Peter Handscomb at slip.

The 23-year-old deserved more from an opening spell where he beat the bat with monotonous regularity, but Mulder and wicketkeeper Harry Swindells survived not only that stint but Shaheen Shah Afridi‘s opening salvo too. And when spin took over from one end, Mulder took toll of a rare loose ball from leg-spinner Luke Hollman to raise the 50-partnership.

Fate then smiled kindly on Middlesex as Roland-Jones returned to have an lbw shout against Swindells upheld when it seemed the ball was going over the top.

Mulder pressed on to reach 50 only to toss his wicket away soon after lunch hooking Afridi straight down the throat of Hollman at deep square.

His departure was the cue for Mike’s thrilling counter-offensive. Afridi bowled him some short stuff in retaliation for being on the receiving end of the same the night before, but the all-rounder promptly hooked him over the ropes at long leg. What started as by-play became an ongoing contest with only one winner, Mike flailing the Pakistan international over cover for six as the 50-stand with Ed Barnes came up in 39 balls, forcing Afridi out of the attack.

A punch through mid-on took him to 50 from 57 balls before a scare on 62 when Bamber got one between bat and pad which somehow missed the stumps.

Barnes proved a great foil in a stand which reached 98, ensuring Middlesex would have to bat again, before he played too soon at one from Hollman and lobbed a catch to short mid-wicket.

Mike though plundered on, passing his previous best of 74 and pulling a short one from Roland-Jones for six as the visitors inched ahead.

At the other end Callum Parkinson, survived being struck by a return from the outfield, but perished, caught at slip off Roland-Jones, and Chris Wright clubbed Hollman straight into the hands of midwicket with Mike two short of his century.

His mistake was to take a single, a decision he was to regret when last man Beuran Hendricks shouldered arms to Roland-Jones who sent his off-stump cartwheeling out the ground, cruel luck on Mike after a magnificent innings.


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