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Harris century salvages draw for Middlesex at Leicestershire

PUBLISHED: 18:27 23 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:27 23 June 2018

James Harris of Middlesex (pic: John Walton/PA)

James Harris of Middlesex (pic: John Walton/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

An unbeaten half-century from James Harris saw visitors Middlesex complete an outstanding recovery to beat Leicestershire by one wicket in a marvellously tense finish to their Specsavers Division Two county championship match at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road.

Harris, who had been dropped twice by Leicestershire, clipped the winning runs off the bowling of Mohammad Abbas with 6.3 overs remaining. It was a fitting end to an intense day’s cricket, during which Hilton Cartwright hit 80 after being “bowled” by Gavin Griffiths before he had scored. The delivery clipped off-stumped hard, but the bail did not come off, and the Australian went on to play a vital innings for his new county.

Starting the day on 82-3 chasing a target of 381 to win, not out Middlesex batsmen Stevie Eskinazi and Ravi Patel applied themselves impressively through the first hour, adding 55 for the fourth wicket before nightwatchman Patel’s attempted drive at a full delivery from Mohammad Abbas resulted in a thin edge to wicket-keeper Lewis Hill.

Paul Stirling was also dismissed caught behind driving, a loose shot at a wide ball from Griffiths, and Leicestershire thought they had their third wicket of the day when the young seamer hit Cartwright’s off-stump. To everybody’s disbelief, the bail did not move.

Hope for Middlesex lay in the fact the wicket was behaving well. Cartwright went on to compile a partnership of 48 for the fifth wicket with Eskinazi, and then of an unbroken 80 with John Simpson as Middlesex lost only one wicket during the afternoon session.

The man to go, also in extraordinary circumstances, was Eskinazi, who was on 97 at the non-striker’s end when Cartwright, on 19, drove left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson to Ben Raine at short extra cover. Raine could not hold the low chance, but Cartwright, seeing the ball bounce away, called Eskinazi through for a sharp single, and Raine recovered to throw down the stumps before Eskinazi could get home.

Simpson went soon after tea, leg before to late in-swing from Griffiths, but Harris was put down on 21, by wicketkeeper Hill, and on 23 by Ateeq Javid at second slip, both times off Raine. Neither was an easy chance but both will feel they should have held on.

Cartwright eventually went to a Raine delivery that stayed low and cut back, and Middlesex were still seven short when Steve Finn gloved Abbas down the leg-side to Hill. Last man Tim Murtagh joined Harris to steer the visitors over the line.

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