Cricket / Sunday League: Lancashire denied on the final ball - Middlesex survive a tense fightback as the captain keeps Essex in the hunt / Henry Blofeld reports from Old Trafford

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Middlesex 201-5; Lancs 199-9. Middlesex win by 2 runs

IN A thrilling finish Middlesex won a record 10th successive Sunday League match of the season when they beat Lancashire by two runs at Old Trafford yesterday. After being put in to bat Middlesex made 201 for 5 in what had become a 36-over affair after morning rain; Lancashire finished with 199 for 9 from their 36 overs.

Lancashire began their innings badly and when Mike Watkinson swept John Emburey's first ball to deep square-leg they were 79 for 4 in the 22nd over and the game seemed well beyond their reach.

At this point Graham Lloyd was joined by Ian Austin and suddenly they broke the Middlesex stranglehold. Austin swung hard and successfully and Middlesex knew they had a problem.

These two put on 47 in seven overs before Lloyd went to slash Dean Headley square on the off-side and somehow the ball looped back to mid-off. In the next over it became 130 for 6 when Austin was bowled by a near-perfect yorker from Angus Fraser which hit his leg-stump. It was encouraging to see Fraser running in to bowl with much more freedom and he was able to trust his suspect hip rather more in his delivery stride.

In the over after that, Ronnie Irani tried to swing Fraser over mid-on and was well caught by Paul Weekes at deep third man. That made it 139 for 7.

The left-handed Dexter Fitton took up the cudgels. He scored 10 of the 13 which came from Fraser's last over, including a pull for six off a full toss. However, he was out slogging crudely at the first ball of the next over, bowled by Neil Williams, which made it 159 for 8 in the 33rd over.

Warren Hegg slogged Williams back over his head with a flat bat for six in the 33rd over, which produced 12 runs. Thirty were needed from the last three and Lancashire's hopes effectively ended when Hegg was run out off the last ball of the 35th over. He tried to come back for a second run to Mark Ramprakash at deep square-leg and narrowly failed.

Twelve runs were needed from Emburey's last over and two pieces of misfielding by Ramprakash at long-off produced five runs. When Emburey ran in to bowl the last ball to Peter Martin, Lancashire needed four more runs, but he was only able to reach deep square-leg and had to settle for a single.

Earlier, Middlesex had benefited from a splendid innings of 84 in 91 balls from Desmond Haynes. The middle of the innings fell away but sensible batting by Keith Brown and Weekes in the closing stages took Middlesex past 200 which turned out to be just enough.

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