Lancashire clash at Lord's heading for draw
Nick Gubbins moved relentlessly to the first double-century of his career and Stevie Eskinazi scored a maiden hundred in only his third first-class innings as Middlesex replied to Lancashire's 513 in determined fashion on a flat pitch at Lord's.
When bad light and rain lopped the last 29 overs from the day’s allocation Middlesex had reached 419 for five, with Gubbins unbeaten on 201 after hitting what proved to be the last three balls of the day for a total of 10 runs off Kyle Jarvis.
His final stroke, a resounding pull to the rope, was his 23rd four and the left-hander - who made his maiden first-class hundred in Middlesex’s previous championship fixture at Lord’s, against Somerset in late May - punched the air in delight.
Before the tea interval, James Franklin scored 41 from 51 balls as a fifth-wicket stand of 95 with Gubbins secured a maximum five batting points for Middlesex.
Eskinazi, meanwhile, had raised his own bat aloft in triumph after going to three figures in memorable fashion shortly after lunch by slog-sweeping leg-spinner Matt Parkinson for six.
This Specsavers County Championship Division One match looks destined to be a run-filled draw, but there was still interest in the game’s third day as Gubbins and Eskinazi, both 22, took their second-wicket partnership to 208 after Middlesex resumed on 146 for one.
Their run-making in the morning session was cheered enthusiastically by around 5,000 local schoolchildren, who were visiting Lord’s as part of Middlesex’s annual schools’ day.
Gubbins has batted for seven hours and 24 minutes, facing 329 balls and hitting three sixes besides his profitable tally of fours, while Eskinazi faced 186 balls across almost four hours for his 106. In his only previous first-class game, against Yorkshire at Lord’s last September, Eskinazi made 22 and four.
Eskinazi batted with calm judgement throughout until he edged Jarvis to second slip.
Gubbins played with fluency and little trouble and a real feature of his innings was the power and timing of his stylish driving through extra cover - the first, off Jarvis early in the morning, setting the tone for a third successive day of bat dominating ball.
Lancashire’s pace attack, led by Jarvis and Neil Wagner, found little to encourage them in a slow, lifeless surface but the strike pair both still ran in strongly with the second new ball to check Middlesex’s progress for a while in the afternoon session.
After Eskinazi had departed, Dawid Malan was held at second slip off Wagner for a bright 24 and, in the next over, John Simpson was bowled through the gate for one aiming an expansive drive at Jordan Clark.
Franklin, who hit seven fours in his selfless innings, was fifth out when he pushed at Jarvis and nicked behind to Croft, leaving Paul Stirling to keep Gubbins company until the early finish and deny Lancashire a second bowling bonus point.