Holden and Higgins change the situation in Gloucestershire

Holden and Higgins change the situation in Gloucestershire

Middlesex 203 and 262 for 3 (Holden 105*, Higgins 102*) lead Gloucestershire 322 (Hammond 81, van Buuren 75, Brooks 3-55) by 143 runs

Centuries from Max Holden and Ryan Higgins pulled Middlesex out of a hole on day three of Vitality’s County Championship Second Division match with Gloucestershire in Bristol.

Having conceded a first innings lead of 119 by removing their opponents for 322 from an overnight 271 for 6, the visitors fell to nine for two in their second innings before Holden, Leus du Plooy (30) and Higgins They will launch a powerful counterattack.

In the end, Middlesex had posted 262 for 3, Holden and Higgins shared an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 183 and had a lead of 143, leaving all three possible outcomes on the final day. Holden had faced 157 balls, hitting 14 fours and a six, while Higgins hit 13 fours and three sixes while facing 120 deliveries against his former club.

Middlesex needed to make good use of the second new ball, available when the game started an hour late due to overnight rain, to restrict Gloucestershire’s first innings lead on the hybrid pitch which offers more bounce than usual in the Seat Unique Stadium. Ben Charlesworth, batting with Ollie Price at runner due to an ankle injury sustained on day one, produced two textbook home runs off Tom Helm, while Zaman Akhter exploited the cover region.

The pair had extended their seventh-wicket position to 71 when Akhter, on 27, attempted one drive too many and Helm bowled him after failing to get to the delivery of a good length delivery. It proved to be Middlesex’s only success in the hour before lunch, which was achieved with Gloucestershire 314 for 7, 111 runs ahead.

The hosts failed to build at the start of the afternoon session as Henry Brookes scored three times in one over. Charlesworth started to slide attempting a big hit and only rose to mid off where Holden made a good catch.

Marchant de Lange swung in his trademark style and also ducked a catch off his third ball, bouncer Jack Davies taking a catch, before Dom Goodman took a catch at third slip to end the innings.

Soon the Gloucestershire seamers began to make progress on a much livelier pitch than they were used to playing in home matches. Nathan Fernandes had scored just five when he was caught at mid-wicket bowling a short ball from Goodman.

It was 9 for 2 when Mark Stoneman departed for a duck, caught behind a wide delivery from Ajeet Singh Dale and du Plooy came in to face a testing test, beating his first ball from Singh Dale just before the slip cordon.

In an Akhter over, the Middlesex captain needed treatment after taking a hit on the hand and was then hit again by the first delivery after resuming his innings. Another over from the same player saw him survive three confident lbw appeals.

Holden defiantly pulled de Lange for four and then six as he and du Plooy gradually put out the Gloucestershire fire. But having helped take the total to 66 for 2 at tea, they added just 13 more before du Plooy, who had received plaudits from the bowler when he hit De Lange over his head for a huge six, was brilliantly caught by Chris Dent in the back. point to give Goodman a second wicket.

Holden advanced to a priceless half-century off 83 balls and, along with Higgins, took Middlesex into the lead with seven wickets still in hand. The momentum was now on the batting side and when spin was introduced, the pair first milked singles from Graeme van Buuren to increase the scoring rate and then went on the attack, Higgins hitting Price for a six and a four in the same over.

The sun was out and all the venom had worn off from the bowling when Higgins marked his return to an old playing field by taking a fifty off 73 balls. In the 62nd minute, Van Buuren left him in the middle of the field in front of Price.

Holden reached his ton off 151 balls, with 13 fours and a six and Higgins followed to three figures with a six from Singh Dale. Now Middlesex will relish their chances of a final day declaration and an improbable victory.