Cricket: Middlesex face an uphill struggle to secure victory

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By David Llewellyn at Lord's

Glamorgan 308 & 260 Middlesex 256 & 6-0

THE WHEEL of fortune has turned slowly in this match, rather like the pitch. In fact the tempo of the whole game has had a rather languid feel to it. Low and slow.

From a Glamorgan point of view that could well be to their advantage. Their Pakistani fast bowler, Waqar Younis, is suffering from a elbow injury and is doubtful for the champion county's next match in their title defence against Hampshire.

His chances, therefore, of reappearing in this game to help prevent Middlesex scoring the 307 runs that remain of the target of 313, are remote.

At least the Welsh club's youngsters finally did their stuff. They are fighting for places in the team and Michael Powell advanced his cause with an unbeaten 79, while Adrian Shaw made his first championship 50 of the summer. Without these two Glamorgan would have been in an uncomfortable situation.

They began their second innings with a 52-run advantage after taking just 10 minutes and 17 balls to pick up the remaining Middlesex wicket - that of David Nash for 76 - in the morning. There were puzzled looks among the home fans at captain Mark Ramprakash's decision to bat on anyway since they had already acquired a second batting bonus point on the previous day.

Ramprakash though had perplexed everyone by his decision to put Glamorgan in after winning the toss and he needs his men to vindicate that decision. The last time they won a championship match chasing more than 300 was in 1994 when they made 392 for 8 to beat Surrey.

And runs are not coming readily. Glamorgan have the services of England off-spinner Robert Croft and the promising Dean Cosker and those two will make the Middlesex men work for every run. Rather as Powell, Shaw and Steve James had to against some efficient, if unexciting Middlesex attack with Ramprkash an unexpected star turn with a career best return of 3 for 32, closely followed by Angus Fraser with 3 for 47.