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Middlesex begin title defence with draw against Hampshire

Toby Roland-Jones, Ollie Rayner and Tim Murtagh all contributed to their rearguard action.

CRICKET 17/04/17 18:41
Middlesex begin title defence with draw against Hampshire

Middlesex began their Specsavers County Championship title defence with a hard-fought draw with Hampshire after some dogged resistance from their tail.

Toby Roland-Jones, Ollie Rayner and Tim Murtagh magnificently saved them from defeat after Hampshire had looked set to ease to victory following three wickets with the second new ball but the visitors held on at the Ageas Bowl.

Middlesex had been in defensive mood throughout the fourth day after starting with a slender lead of 27 and six wickets in hand.

Adam Voges and nightwatchman Steven Finn saw off the first 57 minutes of the morning in defensive style. Voges in particular looked unmovable, with a desperate lbw shout against him the closest the hosts came to an early scalp.

Finn, who had been prolific in his blocking, was the only wicket to fall in the morning when he was caught by substitute fielder Fraser Hay at mid-wicket – after a cunning Brad Wheal short-ball plan paid off.

Voges was joined by John Simpson and the duo added an important 35, with the potential required runs for Hampshire advancing further from sight. The Australian moved carefree through a 115-ball half-century as Hampshire took their foot off the gas approaching the second new ball.

The wait was worth it as they struck just three deliveries after taking the new ball – Voges chasing Kyle Abbott on the cut to edge behind. In doing so, Voges became the fifth to pass the mark and fall short of three figures and also the third batsman to fall in their 90s in the match.

Only two more runs were scored before James Franklin edged a delightful Abbott delivery to Jimmy Adams at second slip.

Gareth Berg produced the delivery of the day when he managed to get one to spit off a length to send Simpson back caught behind just five balls later. But that is where the game ended as a contest as Roland-Jones took the sting out with a time-consuming 25.

However, the Wisden Cricketer of the Year did depart when he clipped Wheal to Adams while attempting a slog pull.

If Hampshire had taken the last wicket quickly there was still time for a thrilling chase but for a perplexing over from Wheal, which saw Tim Murtagh pull three times straight down the ground.

The pair added an unbeaten 26, with 63 put on for the last two stands, before hands were shaken on a draw at 4:50pm.