Cricket: Shah's late flurry almost steals victory

Leics 228 and 225-7 dec Middlesex 137 and 273-6 Match drawn
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A GAME that looked destined to become death in the afternoon burst back to life after tea when Richard Kettleborough and Owais Shah took the Leicestershire fox by the tail in a second-wicket stand of 227.

Set to score 317 in a minimum of 85 overs, and losing both openers for only six, Middlesex had looked to be chasing a draw rather than a victory as the match dawdled through the second session.

Shah led the gallop with his third hundred of the season, reached off 228 balls with a six and nine fours. But the lefthander Kettleborough was never far off his shoulder with his Championship best, 93 from 188 balls, since joining Middlesex last year.

Leicestershire manufactured their own misfortune by not posting a third man for a long period, not to mention giving Kettleborough three lives either side of his reaching 50, and they were caught on the hop when Middlesex approached the final 20 overs needing 125 with eight wickets in hand. It certainly brought the sun-lovers slumbering in the bleachers back to attention. Ultimately it was too much for Middlesex, and by the close they had settled again for the draw. Matthew Brimson's left-arm spin got rid of Shah, and the promotion of hard-hitting Richard Johnson came unstuck when Jon Dakin removed his middle stump.

In the space of two overs the game had swung back Leicestershire's way, which is where it was when the day began.

The members and their ladies had hardly claimed their seats in the pavilion when Michael Kasprowicz blasted five fours in seven balls from the wayward Johnson. In nine overs he and Dakin added 59 to Leicestershire's overnight score, extending their own stand to 120 before the declaration, an eighth- wicket record for the county against Middlesex.

Their 90 together in the first innings was a ninth-wicket record against these opponents. Both passed 50, Dakin for the second time in the match and Kasprowicz making amends for missing by one run first time out.

Kasprowicz was quickly back in action when Middlesex batted, getting Andy Strauss lbw when he offered no stroke. Two balls later Ben Hutton was caught behind by Paul Nixon off James Ormond. It was a rare success for the Leicestershire wicketkeeper in a patchy display, particularly standing up to spinner Brimson.