A fourth innings target of 270 in 54 overs proved beyond Middlesex at Lord’s where they finished on 152 for five to settle for a draw against Warwickshire in the LV= County Championship Division One match at Lord’s.
At 80 for no wicket, from 26 overs, Middlesex seemed to have built a solid base from which to launch a late victory bid, after they had earlier bowled out Warwickshire for 187 in their second innings.
But Rikki Clarke then removed both Sam Robson for 29 and Nick Compton, for a duck, in the space of three balls and Middlesex were left with no option but to bat it out for a draw when Eoin Morgan also fell for 2 just three overs later.
Clarke had Robson caught at the wicket and Compton taken at first slip in a fiery spell from the Pavilion End, while Boyd Rankin saw Morgan squeeze an attempted square drive into his stumps from a yorker-length ball that pitched a foot wide of his off stump.
After that it was left to Australian opener Joe Burns, who impressed with 72 from 140 balls, to steer Middlesex to safety. James Franklin was fourth out, playing on to Rankin on 9, and Burns did depart near the end, stumped off Jeetan Patel’s off spin when he overbalanced, but Neil Dexter remained 17 not out.
Hands were shaken with four overs unbowled, and the ten points Middlesex take from the draw puts them on top of Division One, while Warwickshire pick up eleven points and go third.
Earlier, Warwickshire had lost their last eight second innings wickets for the addition of 129 runs in 40 overs after resuming on 58 for two.
At one stage James Harris and Toby Roland-Jones took four Warwickshire wickets between them in just 19 balls to bring Middlesex dramatically back into contention.
By lunch, Warwickshire had collapsed to 144 for seven, and led only by 226 with 67 overs remaining in the game – having looked, earlier in the session, to be moving comfortably into a position from where they might declare to set Middlesex a fourth innings target.
Warwickshire’s lower order, though, with Patel biffing a six and three fours in his 27, held up Middlesex’s seamers for the best part of an hour after lunch, pushing the lead well above 250 and making a successful Middlesex chase unlikely.
Varun Chopra’s dismissal for 73, leg-before to Harris as he aimed across the line, set in motion a sudden slide in which Laurie Evans, Clarke and Keith Barker all fell cheaply.
Evans, on 7, was also lbw to Harris, nipping his seamers back up the Lord’s slope from the Nursery End, while the pacy Toby Roland-Jones pinned Clarke leg-before for 1 before having Barker caught at mid wicket two balls later for a duck.
Warwickshire had thus slipped from 125 for three to 127 for seven and it could have been worse as Tim Ambrose, on 1, then edged Roland-Jones low between keeper John Simpson and first slip for four.
After lunch Patel was bowled swinging at Roland-Jones, having scooped Steven Finn for a remarkable six over square leg, and Ambrose immediately followed when he spliced an attempted pull at Finn to mid on. The last Warwickshire wicket to fall was that of Chris Wright, lbw to Finn for 9.
Earlier Jonathan Trott had been run out for 29 by a direct hit from Robson, after being rightly sent back by his partner Chopra as he looked to take a quick single when turning the ball just past Robson at short leg.
Trott had helped Chopra to add 72 in 20 overs for the third wicket, 47 of those runs in the opening hour of the day after Warwickshire had resumed their second innings 140 ahead.
Warwickshire captain Chopra’s fine innings occupied 150 balls, and the opener hit nine fours – the best of them a glorious extra cover drive off Harris.