KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Title-chasing Middlesex still have it all to do on the final day of their LV= County Championship match against Durham at Chester-le-Street, but they showed fighting spirit after being asked to follow on by last year's Champions.
Faced with a mammoth target of 419 to avoid being asked to bat again, fifties for Joe Denly, Paul Stirling and Toby Roland-Jones helped Middlesex prolong their first innings into the final session of the day, finally making 330 all out.
While this was not enough to save the follow-on, the defiant lower-order runs boosted chances of saving the game on the final day, a result that looked unlikely at 69/4 overnight.
Denly added 48 to his day three score to make his second Championship fifty in succession, before being dismissed for 59 by Durham debutant Jon Hastings. After wicket-keeper John Simpson was removed after a fluent 44 by Ben Stokes on the stroke of lunch, Stirling (55) and Roland-Jones (a career best 63) combined to good effect to frustrate the hosts.
Despite a late flurry of runs from Stirling's Irish team-mate Tim Murtagh (42), Middlesex fell 89 runs short of saving the follow-on, and were asked to bat again by Durham captain Paul Collingwood.
Batting for a second time, Middlesex made it through to stumps two down thanks to an unbeaten 41 from Sam Robson, who will resume tomorrow alongside nightwatchman Ravi Patel as the away side made it to 90/2 at the close - 148 runs behind.
Although Middlesex have fought well to take the game into a fourth day, the hosts remain firm favourites to seal their first win of the season. Middlesex will hope that a combination of their batsmen and the weather can earn them a draw.