LV County Championship - Division Two
Chelmsford - Day Four
Middlesex 302 (A J Strauss 88, E C Joyce 66, J D Middlebrook 5-69, R N ten Doeschate 4-75) & 203 (D C Nash 50 no, A P Palladino 4-29) v Essex 207 (T Westley 60, J E R Gallian 56, D Evans 6-35) & 301-8 (C J C Wright 71 no)
Essex (18pts) beat Middlesex (6pts) by 2 wkts
Former Middlesex paceman Chris Wright showed his old club what they are missing as he struck a superb 71 not out to guide Essex to the most unlikely of victories at Chelmsford.
The 22-year-old, better known for his pace bowling, shared an unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 99 with James Middlebrook (33no) as the home side snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Resuming the day requiring another 176 runs with only five wickets remaining, Middlesex looked strong favourites to wrap up the match on a turning day four track.
And victory for the visitors came ever closer when Tony Palladino (16) and Varun Chopra (38) were dismissed in quick succession to leave the hosts reeling at 167-7.
Wicket-keeper James Foster (16) was the next to depart off the bowling of Steven Finn, however Wright and Middlebrook were unfazed by their desperate situation as they played a fine array of strokes either side of the wicket to pass the target with a session to spare.
Evergreen off-spinner Shaun Udal took 3-20 to put Middlesex in the driving seat heading into day four of their LV County Championship Division Two clash with Essex.
The hosts had earlier reduced Middlesex to a disappointing 203 all out as Tony Palladino took 4-29 to leave Essex requiring an achievable 299 in their final innings.
Wicket-keeper David Nash struck an invaluable 50 not out as he and seamer Tim Murtagh (42) put on an invaluable eighth wicket stand of 70 as the visitors recovered from 84-6.
As Essex took to the crease to chase down their target, Alastair Cook (31) and Jason Gallian (40) got the innings off to a fantastic start, however as soon as both openers perished Udal literally turned the game on its head.
The former Hampshire stalwart dismissed Tom Westley (1) and Essex skipper Mark Pettini (0) in quick succession before making Ryan ten Doeschate (18) his third victim of the afternoon as wickets began to tumble.
Varun Chopra (17no) and Palladino (0no) return to the crease on Saturday morning as the pair aim to rebuild the Essex innings and accummulate the 176 further runs required for victory.
Andre Nel reduced Middlesex to 19-3 in their second innings to give Essex hope of turning things around at Chelmsford.
At the start of the second day, the last three wickets added 39 runs to MIddlesex's overnight position to be bowled out for a first-innings score of 302.
Middlesex seamer Danny Evans then took 6-35 to help bowl Essex out for 207 in their first innings, a lead of 95 for the visitors.
But Essex's South African paceman Nel (3-8) steamed in with the new ball in the evening sunshine to account for Andrew Strauss (12), Shaun Udal (0) and Ed Smith (0).
Middlesex hold an overall lead of 114 ahead of a potentially exciting third day at Chelmsford.
Andrew Strauss limbered up for the forthcoming Test series against New Zealand by top-scoring for Middlesex on day one of their County Championship fixture against Essex at Chelmsford.
The left-hand opener, expected to be named in Peter Moore's squad this weekend, made 88 as the visitors reached 263-7 by close of play, with sometime international colleague Ed Joyce also in the runs to the tune of 66.
Having been put into bat, Strauss put on 85 for the opening wicket with Billy Godleman before the latter was caught behind by James Foster off the bowling of James Middlebrook having made 29.
Ed Smith (0) rapidly came and went before Joyce arrived at the crease and, alongside Strauss - who hit 10 boundaries - the pair put on 103 for the third wicket before the latter departed to the same Middlebrook-Foster combination.
Joyce eventually fell lbw to Ryan ten Doeschate - an innings much-needed in the context of a middle-order slump which saw Eoin Morgan (18) and Vernon Philander (23) producing Middlesex's next-best innings.
Middlebrook (5-59) was far and away Essex's best performer with the ball - taking his first five-wicket haul in some four years - ten Doeschate also chipping in with figures of 2-61.