Lancashire 330 for 5 (Vilas 124, Wells 97) lead Middlesex 194 (Robson 86, Bailey 3-38) by 136 runs
Lancashire’s batters maintained their side’s grip on the LV= County Championship Division One match against Middlesex and had built a 136-run first-innings lead by the close of yet another rain-shortened day.
After overnight and morning rain had caused the loss of the first session’s play, Lancashire’s batsmen were clearly determined to build a big lead as quickly as possible.
Both Wells and Vilas took heavy toll of any short-pitched bowling from Josh de Caires and Jayant Yadav, each batsman hitting a six as if to dispel Middlesex’s thoughts that they might seize the initiative with a couple of early wickets. Indeed, the pair had extended their partnership to 128 when Wells came down the wicket to Jayant and was caught by John Simpson for 97, although the wicketkeeper made doubly sure of the dismissal by stumping the batsman
By that stage, however, Lancashire had a lead of 30 and George Bell helped Vilas stretch that advantage to 51 at tea, by which time Lancashire were 245 for four and well-placed for an onslaught in the final session of the day.
At first, it seemed that the home side’s plans would be frustrated by bad light but the weather improved markedly and both Vilas and Bell scored freely against a flagging attack. Vilas reached his tenth first-class century for Lancashire, but his first of the season, with a square-cut off Toby Roland-Jones. He had faced 155 balls and hit eight fours and one six in his 197-minute innings.
Having reached that landmark, however, Vilas and Bell accelerated, presumably with the aim of building an advantage that would permit an early declaration on the final day of this game, thereby giving Lancashire’s bowlers time to dismiss Middlesex.
In the final hour of the day, Bell reached his third fifty of the season off 75 balls with four fours and immediately brought up his hundred partnership for the fifth wicket with Vilas. It was a tough day for the Middlesex bowlers but the visitors made a breakthrough late in the day when Vilas was lbw to Ethan Bamber for 124, thus ending his 106-run partnership with Bell.
Bad light then ended play 9.5 overs before the scheduled close.
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