County Championship: Middlesex beat Leicestershire after tense run chase

Middlesex batsman Stevie Eskinazi plays a shot
Middlesex batsman Stevie Eskinazi missed out on his first Championship century of the season when he was run out on 97
Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Fischer County Ground (day four):
Leicestershire 427 & 186: Ackermann 196; Murtagh 5-60
Middlesex 233 & 383-9: Eskinazi 97, Cartwright 80, Harris 58*; Griffiths 3-81
Middlesex (19 pts) beat Leicestershire (7 pts) by one wicket

Middlesex held their nerve to beat Leicestershire by one wicket following a tense final-day run chase.

The visitors' chances of reaching their target of 381 appeared in the balance when Stevie Eskinazi was run out on 97 as they went from 82-3 to 197-6.

Hilton Cartwright kept their hopes alive but Ben Raine removed him lbw for 80, leaving Middlesex requiring another 38 runs with two wickets remaining.

James Harris (58 not out) hit a four to deny the Foxes a third successive win.

Leicestershire were left to rue missed opportunities in the field, after twice dropping the Welshman from edges behind while he was in the 20s.

Cartwright, too, was dropped on 19, but Raine revived the home side by removing Eskinazi with a direct hit on the stumps after the batsmen were involved in a mix-up between the wickets.

John Simpson added a useful 39 as he and Cartwright had put on 87 for the seventh wicket but the loss of the Australian and Steven Finn left Middlesex needing another seven runs with just one wicket left.

Last man Tim Murtagh, though, provided the necessary support to allow Harris to hit the winning runs.

The win moved Middlesex to fifth in the table, one place and six points behind the Foxes, as Leicestershire missed the chance to go third.

Cricket statistician Andrew Samson on Twitter

Leicestershire captain Paul Horton told BBC Radio Leicester:

"We're disappointed not to win a game of cricket we dominated throughout, but credit to the opposition who played really well.

"The wicket slabbed up a little, got a bit flatter, a bit harder, and didn't do as much, which surprised everyone, batters included. But we still had our chances to win.

"Over the four days we put down eight chances, and Gavin Grriffiths was unlucky. He hit the stumps [of Hilton Cartwright] and the bails didn't come off, but it happens sometimes.

"We've now lost two games we probably should have won, against Durham and now here, but the fact that we're disappointed about getting beat by the champions of two years ago shows we're moving in the right direction."

Middlesex head coach Richard Scott:

"The lads were awesome, from nightwatchman Ravi Patel hanging around for an hour and getting a valuable 20 on, Stevie Eskinazi, Hilton Cartwright, Harry (James Harris) at the end. They all played their part.

"It's frustrating not to have been at the races on the first two days, but we were the dominant side on the last two days and showed great spirit to get over the line. To get 381 was immense.

"Full credit to the Leicestershire bowlers. They hammered away on a line and length, but generally the pitch played really well - it can't have been that bad to chase down 380!

"If we turn up and start games like we finished here we're a match for anyone in the country."

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