Warwickshire fail to capitalise on (another) rare Ian Westwood century

Middlesex 287 Warwickshire 293-8

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The Independent Online

Ian Westwood, who gave up the Warwickshire captaincy two years ago after enduring a full season without a first-class century, scored his second against Middlesex within the space of three weeks but Warwickshire, the First Division leaders and favourites to win the County Championship, made hard work of establishing a lead as this match continued to provide an even contest between bat and ball.

The left-hander shared an opening partnership with Varun Chopra that appeared to provide the platform for a substantial Warwickshire total but from 175 without loss the innings lost its way with no subsequent combination able to add more than 29.

When a hailstorm drove the players from the field with a dozen overs left of the day's scheduled play, they had struggled to 293 for 8, with a lead of only six.

They had cause to feel a little aggrieved over the last wicket to fall as Jim Troughton, who had made a measured half-century and was looking to accelerate, edged a ball from Tim Murtagh to second slip in fading light, but otherwise the story had unfolded along similar lines to the opening day.

The pattern then was for anything bowled too short to sit up and be punished but for balls pitched up to pose problems. There were some outstanding catches, notably by Sam Robson and Steven Crook, who took turns in the gully, to bring about the demise of Chopra and Darren Maddy. There was a maiden wicket, too, for the left-arm spinner, Ravi Patel, who started nervously but had the fillip of seeing William Porterfield edge to slip.

Neil Dexter's medium pace did for Westwood, who chipped to mid-off, but it was Toby Roland-Jones's work with the new ball that did the most significant damage, with Rikki Clarke, Tim Ambrose and Ian Blackwell all out cheaply.