Durham 147 (Handscomb 54, Finn 4-41) and 191 (Robson 64) v Middlesex 143 (Raine 5-26) and 21 for 0
Angus Robson’s first Durham half-century enabled the visitors to set Middlesex a tricky target of 196 for victory in their low-scoring County Championship clash at Lord’s.
Robson – the younger brother of Middlesex opener Sam – is making only his second appearance for Durham after impressing in their second XI earlier this summer.
The 27-year-old’s gritty knock of 64 from 156 deliveries anchored Durham’s second innings as they posted 191 all out to set up the prospect of a fascinating finish on the third day.
The elder Robson, along with Nick Gubbins, shaved 21 off the target during the five overs they faced before bad light ended play – but, with cloud cover expected again on Thursday, the bowlers may yet have the final word.
Middlesex began the day 60 runs in arrears at 87 for 7 and initially adopted a strategy of pure survival as James Harris and Miguel Cummins gradually reduced the deficit.
However, that changed after Ben Raine captured the wicket of Harris (14), with Cummins starting to play his shots and taking three boundaries from a single Chris Rushworth over.
Steven Finn added 11 before Raine (5-26) clipped the leg stump to complete his third five-for of the season, but Cummins (22no) and Tim Murtagh (14) took their side to within four of Durham’s first-innings 147.
Rushworth (3-54) eventually ended the Middlesex resistance by having Murtagh caught at backward point and then it was the turn of Durham’s batsmen to toil against the swinging ball.
Alex Lees and Cameron Steel did not seem overly troubled as they accelerated after lunch, with the latter unafraid to go for his shots in an opening partnership of 51.
The end of their stand was self-inflicted, with Lees (13) run out by Murtagh’s throw from mid-wicket after a chaotic mix-up and – as they had done in the first innings – Durham’s batting line-up wilted.
Cummins, who consistently beat the bat from the Pavilion End, got one to move away from Steel (39) and take a faint edge through to John Simpson.
Harris accounted for Peter Handscomb, leg before for three, and Durham were suddenly in difficulties at 80-4 when Gareth Harte (0) drifted across to be pinned in front of the stumps by Finn.
But Robson and Championship debutant Scott Steel – no relation to Cameron – regrouped with a partnership of 47, dominated by the latter as he raced to 39 before chipping Murtagh to mid-wicket.
Harris (3-43) claimed two more lbw victims by nipping the ball back to remove Ned Eckersley (2) and Brydon Carse (0), but Robson inched towards his half-century after almost three and a half hours.
It was Finn (3-49) who finally wrapped up Durham’s innings, with Robson’s the final wicket to fall after Max Holden’s juggling act on the boundary – leaving Middlesex an awkward spell to negotiate before the close.
Gubbins began the chase by driving Rushworth’s first two deliveries to the boundary as he and Robson reached 21-0, with Middlesex requiring another 175 to win