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All rounder calls for strong batting performance on day four

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Gareth Berg believes Middlesex could pick up their second Championship victory of the season against Durham today, but conceded their first priority is to bat the opposition out of the game.

Sixteen wickets fell at Lord’s yesterday as the hosts ended the day 21-1 in their second innings, 29 runs behind the visitors’ first innings total of 238.

Any result other than a draw seemed highly unlikely after the whole of Thursday and most of Friday was lost to bad weather.

However you only have to look to last week when Middlesex beat Surrey by three runs in similar conditions to entertain the notion that victory is not out of the question.

And with the ball seaming, runs are at a premium and a lead of over 150 should present a challenge to Durham.

“Hopefully (we will win) depending on how we start the day, we will see how we are after lunch,” Berg told London24.

“That wicket still has a lot for us to bowl a team out in a couple of sessions, but we want to make the game dead, by not giving them a sniff.

“We haven’t spoke about a total, it’s all time. We go out there, bat as long as we can and see what we can do.

“But we would back ourselves to bowl them out in a session in a half.”

Taking the last six Surrey wickets for just 36 runs last week, means Berg has every right to feel confident.

Middlesex had their own period of dominance with the ball yesterday afternoon and when Durham looked comfortable at 142-3, the hosts took five wickets for just 39 runs in the afternoon to force themselves back in the match.

Berg was instrumental in his side’s recovery, picking up the wickets of Dale Benkenstein, Phil Mustard and Callum Thorp, although a last wicket stand of 44 between Scott Borthwick and Graham Onions took the gloss off their fightback.

“We probably didn’t hit our straps early on and that was a first for us,” Berg admitted. “When we started the innings we gave away too many four balls but we pulled it back.

“Just before tea I came on from pavilion end hit my straps pretty well and built my confidence up.

“We seem to take our time getting that last wicket in most games, we know to hit our areas and get that last wicket as fast as we can. They hit the ball pretty well there but it was only a matter of time.”

Berg has not faired quite as well with the bat. 31-year-old managed just two runs before edging behind to Mustard off the bowling of Thorp and in his previous four innings has managed to hit double figures just once.

“There is a step up,” he said. “The bowlers we have come up against have serious skills.

“It will take time, but I am feeling good in the nets I’m just nicking them, but I want to get out there and get bat some time and some runs under my belt.”

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