Middlesex 121 (Salisbury 6-37) and 255 for 2 (Gubbins 90, Eskinazi 96*) lead Durham 227 for 5 (Harte 112, Richardson 50, Murtagh 4-56) by 66 runs
Middlesex have threatened to spoil Paul Collingwood‘s swansong at the Emirates Riverside with a spirited fightback on day two of their Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash against Durham.
The home side boasted a lead of 106 at the start of the day, and through Gareth Harte they were able to extend their advantage. He notched his second century of the campaign before Durham were dismissed for 310, leaving the visitors with plenty of work ahead of them to remain in the game.
Middlesex were able to haul themselves back into the contest courtesy of a fine partnership between Nick Gubbins and Stevie Eskinazi, eradicating the hosts’ lead and handing Dawid Malan’s men an advantage of 66 runs going into the third day.
Durham resumed on their overnight total of 227-5, but were pegged back when Stuart Poynter edged Ethan Bamber behind to Robbie White for 26. Harte kept Durham moving to secure their second batting point, while Mark Wood and Barry McCarthy offered support to the 25-year-old. The batsman notched the second first-class century of his career, reaching the milestone in 196 deliveries, scoring his ninth boundary to get over the line.
Harte fell two short of his career best made earlier in the campaign against Derbyshire. Tim Murtagh wrapped up the final two wickets, claiming figures of 4 for 56, although Durham’s first first-innings score of over 300 at home this term handed Collingwood’s side a more than healthy lead of 189 runs.
Middlesex needed to display character in their second innings. Sam Robson and Gubbins dug in the early stages to see off the threat of the new ball. Collingwood introduced himself into the attack and his arrival broke the partnership after the opening pair had passed fifty together. The Durham skipper nipped one back to clean bowl Robson for 36.
Gubbins joined by Eskinazi, who managed to return to the field after being struck in the head on day one, continued to defy the home side, displaying patience at the crease. Gubbins’ composure paid off as he reached his half-century off 135 deliveries, scoring eight boundaries in the process. The duo whittled down Durham’s advantage to less than fifty as Eskinazi found a rhythm, reeling off back-to-back fours to notch his fifty.
The two Middlesex batsman frustrated the home side’s bowling attack, bringing up their 100-run partnership in 178 deliveries all but eradicating the deficit. Eskinazi began to up the ante to move his way into the nineties, putting his side into the lead, although he was given a life when dropped by Cameron Steel at point. However, Eskinazi fell four short of his ton, clipping straight to Collingwood at mid-wicket, breaking the stand of 159 with Gubbins.
Malan added quick runs towards the close, edging his side’s lead over the 60-run mark. Gubbins was unbeaten on 90 with Middlesex in the ascendancy heading into the third day of the contest with eight wickets remaining in their second innings.