At stumps on day one of a must win game against Middlesex, Lancashire are in a strong position.
Having bowled out the other relegation contender for a mere 214, there is every chance Lancashire could still be playing Division 1 cricket next year. The experienced, ever-reliable captain, Glen Chapple chipped in with four valuable wickets alongside Luke Proctor who himself also picked up four.
No solid partnerships ever developed, though at one point it seemed Denly and Morgan could guide Middlesex to a higher total. That hope dissipated when Chapple picked off Denly, a forgotten batsman in the eyes of England after being on the outskirts of the famous bubble some years ago.
A man very much in the centre of that bubble nowadays is Jos Buttler who will be hoping to help put Lancashire into a commanding lead in Lancashire's first innings.
Without Finn in the side, Middlesex's attack looks lacking when it comes to pace or venom, so it is expected that Lancashire's run total will snake past the 214 runs scored, particularly seeing they have that great run scorer, Ashwell Prince in their XI.
Tim Murtagh will look to use his many years of playing, like Chapple did, to eke out the wickets, but it would be a very surprising day indeed for Lancashire not take the lead.
Eyes will be on the weather with rain forecast on Friday in Manchester, but Lancashire look in command to end their season with a much needed victory. It would indeed be very cruel on a team who came so painfully close to winning the t20 Blast competition to fall down at the last hurdle once more. Particularly so in a year where they have had to jealously watch their bitter rivals celebrate winning the County Championship in such fine style.
Three more big innings to follow to see who out of Lancashire and Middlesex can survive. Chapple may well have burst Middlesex's chances of staying up after such a fine bowling performance.
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