Essex 130-6 need 432 to win
Middlesex’s bid for a first win in the defence of their County Championship title was frustrated by bad light and rain at Lord’s.
Umpires Ian Gould and Paul Baldwin took the players off at 3.10pm with Essex, who had been set a notional 452 to win, struggling on 130 for 6.
Having reduced Essex to 84 for 3 at lunch, the champions took three more wickets in the afternoon as their seam attack held sway in ideal bowling conditions.
Steven Finn had Dan Lawrence (13) caught at first slip by Adam Voges then Middlesex struck twice with the score on 104. Adam Wheater fell to the third ball of a new spell from Toby Roland-Jones when he drove to fourth slip before Ryan ten Doeschate was held at third slip by skipper James Franklin.
Ravi Bopara was doing his best to hold the innings together with an unbeaten 32 but rain appears to be Essex’s only hope of avoiding defeat.