KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Joe Denly's unbeaten century led a fine second-innings fightback from MCC in the Champion County fixture against Warwickshire in Abu Dhabi.
Close, day 3: MCC trail by 123 with 6 wkts remaining
Warks 561/6dec (Porterfield 162, Chopra 163, Evans 72; Kerrigan 3/93) MCC 130 all out (Denly 47; Wright 5/35) & 308/4 (Denly 119* Northeast 89; Clarke 1/16)
Denly's fine, chanceless 119 kept MCC in with a chance of salvaging a draw which seemed almost impossible when they were asked to follow on a staggering 431 runs behind on first innings on the third morning.
His resistance was assisted by a fluent 89 from Kent's Sam Northeast and an aggressive unbeaten 50 ball 57 from Somerset all-rounder Peter Trego, which included a massive straight six off Laurie Evans.
Warwickshire - who had three players, including spinner Paul Best and 'keeper Tim Ambrose off the field injured for the majority of the day - found the going much tougher against a rejuvenated MCC, but chipped away throughout and remain firm favourites to win the match.
Middlesex's Denly spent all but a few minutes on the field on day three, resuming a first innings knock in the morning session which had been interrupted by a migraine on day two.
He was the penultimate man out for 47 as Warwickshire took the final three MCC wickets quickly before lunch, with Chris Wright deservedly picking up his fifth wicket of the innings.
And number three Denly soon found himself at the crease again when MCC opener Jimmy Adams was caught at short-leg for 4 off Best.
Denly and Northeast proceeded to add 156 for the second wicket in a confident partnership, before the Kent opener top-edged to mid-wicket when within sight of his ton.
Warwickshire made inroads in the final session, dismissing Dale Benkenstein (5) and Dawid Malan (28), with the impressive Rikki Clarke keeping a cap on the run rate.
However, Trego counterattacked the part-time spin of Evans and Ian Westwood under the lights, and Jim Troughton was clearly missing the controlling presence of slow-left-armer Best after four and a half sessions in the field.
With Ned Eckersley and James Middlebrook still in the Pavilion MCC will be quietly confident of pulling off a great escape, but the morning session and the form of seamers Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Wright will be key in determining the outcome of this match.