Luis Reece hit an unbeaten 157 and Duanne Olivier took two late wickets to give Derbyshire a good chance of an opening game win versus Middlesex at The 3aaa County Ground.
A record stand of 219 from openers Reece and Ben Slater set Derbyshire on their way to a declaration on 333-3, setting the visitors 442 runs to win.
Olivier took 2-25 in the final session and Hardus Viljoen claimed one as Middlesex closed on 86-3, needing 356 more runs to win whilst Derbyshire chase seven wickets on the final day.
Derbyshire’s opening partnership, which is the Clubs’ highest ever against Middlesex, was built on sound batting from the rarely troubled openers. Reece passed 50 early in the morning session before both players reached 99 as the lead passed 300.
It was at this point Slater’s classy knock came to an end, one short of what would have been a deserved century, as he was caught at cover off Ollie Rayner.
Reece powered on along with new batsman, Wayne Madsen (52), and the partnership passed 100 as the pair both reached milestones; Madsen hitting a first half-century of the summer in 58 balls, and Reece making his 150.
Madsen’s fluent innings came to an end in the same over and Alex Hughes soon followed, stumped by John Simpson off Paul Stirling for five. Billy Godleman came to the crease but scored just one run before declaring with his side on 333-3 and Reece unbeaten on 157.
Set 442 to win, the Middlesex openers began cautiously, Captain Sam Robson watchful until he was the first man out in the tenth over, lbw to Viljoen.
Wanting to keep the pressure on the visiting batsmen, Godleman threw the ball to Olivier, who claimed 4-26 in the first innings. The move paid immediate dividends as the tall South Africa quick had Robbie White lbw for one with his first delivery of the innings.
He was pulled to the ropes for four by Hilton Cartwright but returned the following delivery to have the Zimbabwe all-rounder caught behind by Gary Wilson for 29 off a swinging delivery.
Max Holden remains at the crease, leading the Middlesex resistance on an unbeaten 37 as the visitors closed the day on 86-3, requiring a further 356 runs to win.
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