Lancashire’s survival hopes still hang in the balance after a defiant 45 not out from captain Glen Chapple saved them from relegation early on day three.
They had been on the brink of being relegated after falling to 271-8 early on but Chapple and number ten Tom Bailey took Lancashire’s innings to the 110th over.
Needing seven from Tobias Roland-Jones’ over, Chapple smashed a six before cutting three through point to give Lancashire their third batting bonus point and keep the relegation battle alive.
The captain who was batting with an injured hand admitted it was a little too close for comfort but is pleased to still be in the contest heading into the final day.
“The plan was to get over the line a little bit earlier than that but I had been thinking the boundaries were a long way off and because I had a sore finger I wasn’t sure I could do it,” said Chapple.
“But I just had to go for it and it paid off. We needed a boundary, we were about to run one to the keeper so it was now or never.”
The Red Rose must now go on to win the game, which hangs on a knife-edge going into the final day, in order to condemn Middlesex to relegation.
Middlesex are 202-4 in their second innings which gives them a lead of 114runs heading into what is sure to be a tense final day’s play.
Chapple added: “This game has been a case of us keeping our chance alive and it’s been a match of stages for us. At least we’re still in it going into the final day.
“We’re clinging on and we’re still hopeful going into tomorrow.
“If you put yourselves in this position then you get the chance to win close games. We have won quite a lot of close games over the years.
“It’s probably because of not dominating in first-innings but what it does teach you is how to compete on day four. And we know these games can be won in all sorts of ways. ”
Things could have been even more promising for Lancashire if vice-captain Paul Horton had taken a regulation slip catch off Chapple’s bowling late on day three.
However, the game remains in the balance and early wickets will be crucial if Lancashire are to force victory and retain their Division One status.
“We’re under no illusions that we struggled with the bat in the first innings but we’re looking forward to the last day. Middlesex still have a lot of work to do,” Chapple admitted.
”The last half hour went our way because they now have to have a solid morning. They looked like getting 240 at one point but I’m quite happy where we are.”
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