Nick Gubbins sets platform despite Mohammad Abbas snapping up four

Nick Gubbins works the ball away Getty Images

Middlesex 325 for 8 (Gubbins 75, Scott 52*, Lace 51, Abbas 4-57) v Leicestershire

Mohammad Abbas claimed four wickets on a topsy-turvy first day of Leicestershire's County Championship fixture with Middlesex at Lord's. The Pakistan Test bowler looked a class above the rest in returning 4 for 57 to restrict the hosts to 325 for 8 on decent batting surface.

Half-centuries from Nick Gubbins, Tom Lace, on debut, and George Scott kept the home side in the hunt, but they will be frustrated no one was able to kick on and make a truly telling contribution.

Despite cloudless skies, Leicestershire exercised their right to field and claimed immediate reward when Abbas trapped Sam Robson lbw with the first ball of the match. It was the beginning of a testing opening burst which would have yielded further reward had Harry Dearden clung onto a low edge at third slip when Max Holden had made 13.

It was a costly miss as Holden and Gubbins settled down to build a century stand. Gubbins in particular found his fluency, hitting 10 boundaries as he passed 50.

It was Abbas again who broke the stand shortly after lunch with one which left Holden off the seam and was edged through to wicketkeeper Lewis Hill.

Gubbins, in a rich vein of form after three scores of 90-plus in the Royal London Cup continued untroubled, taking his boundary count to 15, but with a century in the offing the left-hander needlessly aimed a sweep at offspinner Colin Ackerman and gently lobbed a catch to short-fine leg.

That brought in Stevie Eskinazi, skipper in the absence of the injured Dawid Malan, and he moved briskly to 33 at more than a run a ball courtesy of six fours. However, he too fell victim to Ackerman when trying to cut one too close to him and edging through to Hill.

His departure ended a stand of 46 with Lace, who was making his first-class debut for Middlesex after being recalled from a loan spell with Derbyshire. He too played nicely, surviving just one scare when top-edging one from Abbas over the head of Hill.

His eighth four took him to 50 just before tea, but he departed almost immediately afterwards when edging a lifting ball from Ben Mike and giving Hill his third catch of the day. And the hosts were in trouble when two balls later Mike struck again, trapping John Simpson lbw with one which seemed to keep low.

Scott and James Harris, the latter fresh from his maiden century in Middlesex's Royal London Cup play-off defeat to Lancashire dug in adding 55, before Abbas got the new ball in his hand and snared the latter leg before for 24.

Ollie Rayner in his first match of the season suffered the same fate just two balls later, meaning Middlesex needed Scott, with a career-best 52 not out, to steer them past the sanctuary of 300.

Leics 4th innings Partnerships

1st51PJ HortonA Javid
2nd15PJ HortonHassan Azad
3rd38MJ CosgroveHassan Azad
4th50Hassan AzadCN Ackermann
5th52CN AckermannHE Dearden
6th20CN AckermannLJ Hill