LV County Championship - Division Two
Chelmsford - Day four
Middlesex 274 (M Kartik 62 no, G K Berg 56, D D Masters 5-65, C J C Wright 4-71) & 297-7 dec (A J Strauss 97, Danish Kaneria 4-85) v Essex 157 (S T Finn 5-57, G K Berg 4-35) & 159-4 (A N Cook 84 no)
Essex (7pts) drew with Middlesex (9pts)
England opener Alastair Cook made an unbeaten 84 as Essex held on for a draw against Middlesex at Chelmsford.
Inclement weather delayed the start of play until 3pm by which time 53 overs had been knocked off the day's allocation, and Essex finished on 159 for four.
Set a daunting target of 415 for victory, the hosts resumed on 79 for two with Matt Walker adding just three runs to his overnight score of 16 before edging a catch from Steve Finn to wicketkeeper David Nash.
That gave the young fast bowler his third success of the innings as he went on to return match figures of eight for 124.
Essex captain Mark Pettini was the other batsman to fall, dismissed lbw by spinner Murali Kartik for 21.
But James Middlebrook and Cook batted through to the close of play as Essex took seven points to Middlesex's nine.
Andrew Strauss fell three runs short of a century as Middlesex took control of their LV County Championship match against Essex on Monday.
The England Test captain hit 97 before being bowled by Maurice Chambers as Middlesex advanced from 60 without loss to 297 for seven declared at Chelmsford.
Strauss' opening partner Nick Compton also contributed 44 before Danish Kaneria picked up four victims in the space of 43 balls at a cost of 18.
Among the Pakistan leg-spinner's scalps was Neil Dexter, who was trapped lbw for 42.
But skipper Shaun Udal was to produce an entertaining knock of 36 not out that included two sixes and five fours before he declared at tea.
Steve Finn, who picked up five wickets in the first innings, did not take long to make an impact when Essex embarked on their reply - 414 runs behind.
In his fifth over he breached the defence of Jason Gallian to knock back off stump with the total on 34 and he quickly followed it up by getting rid of Varun Chopra, who departed when he chopped on, a dismissal that signalled a pair for the young right-hander.
By the close, England's Alastair Cook had moved to 43 not out and will likely need to put in a big performance if Essex are to stand any chance of saving the game.
Steven Finn's five-wicket haul put Middlesex in control after the second day of their LV County Championship fixture against Essex at Chelmsford.
Rookie fast bowler Finn claimed career-best figures of 5-57 and medium pacer Gareth Berg 4-35 as Essex were skittled for 157 in their first innings, a deficit of 117.
Bad weather had delayed the resumption of the home side's innings until half an hour before lunch, which arrived with them moving from 54-4 to 75 without further loss.
After the interval Finn and Berg worked their way through Essex's lower order, with only Danish Kaneria's run-a-ball 37 providing any resistance.
Berg found swing and lift to remove Mark Pettini, David Masters and Adam Wheater in a five-ball spell costing just a single.
He then got rid of James Middlebrook with the help of wicketkeeper David Nash to end an innings that brought just two singles from 44 balls.
Middlesex openers Andrew Strauss (35no) and Nick Compton (24no) reached 60-0 in their second innings, an overall lead of 177, before rain wiped out the final 22 overs.
Middlesex relied on some lower-roder resistance to reach 274 before reducing Essex to 54-4 at the end of an eventful first day at Chelmsford.
Put into bat, the visitors looked in danger of being bowled out cheaply when they slipped to 139-7, England skipper Andrew Strauss the first wicket to go down having made just 16.
However, Gareth Berg (56) and overseas recruit Murali Kartik, who top-scored with 62 not out, added 99 in 20 overs after Middlesex had lost five wickets for 22 runs.
David Masters eventually broke the eighth-wicket alliance before mopping up the tail to finish with figures of 5-65. Fellow seamer Chris Wright claimed 4-71.
Essex found batting tough when they began their first innings, Steven Finn picking up three quick wickets to leave the hosts in early trouble.
Jason Gallian (10) and Varun Chopra (0) were dismissed by the seamer in successive deliveries and he also removed Matt Walker just before the close of play.
England opener Alastair Cook was the other home batsman to fall, the left-hander making 31 from 47 balls only to fall to a brilliant one-handed catch by Strauss at slip off the bowling of Kartik.