All ten Middlesex wickets fell for a paltry 161 runs to leave them all out for 324, 166 runs shy of Surrey's mammoth first innings total and after Rory Hamilton-Brown declined to enforce the follow on Surrey piled on a further 165 runs to end the day 331 runs ahead with 8 second innings wickets in hand.
Had the lead breached the 350 mark today I think RHB would've been tempted to declare overnight, but as it is I think he'll want to add another 50 or so runs tomorrow morning, as quick as possible and then hope to pick up two or three Middlesex wickets before lunch. But I don't think the pitch holds any devils so I would expect Middlesex to be able to bat out the day.
I was initially surprised at RHB's decision to decline the follow-on, but I suspect there was something in the back of his mind which wanted to avoid another home defeat at all costs, which is fair enough I think. The decision was probably vindicated by the fact that Surrey progressed relatively untroubled to the close.
Jade Dernbach, after a decidedly indifferent bunch of figures yesterday came back strongly today, picking up 5-35 and ripping the backbone out of Middlesex's batting. The other wickets were shared around Nel, Tremlett and two for Batty. Its a measure of how below-par Dernbach has been that he's still only third in the Surrey batting averages, but hopefully today's haul sparks a permanent return to form!
On the batting front Harinath registered his third fifty of the season in assured style but will be disappointed again to have denied himself the chance of getting a hundred, bowled by Owais Shah of all people before the close. Evans was out for 7 from 30 balls, one more than he faced in the first innings for 10 runs, and may be a bit out of his depth at this level. I wonder if he'll get another chance because Younis is due to arrive before the next Championship game and Brown will be back after the Twenty20 break, so he'll be disappointed not to have seized his opportunity. I hardly need mention that Ramprakash carried serenely on to 86* from just 102 balls, he really looks back to some superb form.
I would still anticipate the draw tomorrow, but today has given us many positives. We know Tremlett's quality, now Dernbach has made a major contribution as Meaker did last game so now if Nel can find his wicket-taking rhythm the bowling might begin to take shape. With Ramps back in form, Davies returning and Younis arriving the batting will look much stronger too. Despite absolutely chuff-all points on the board, the rest of the season should be a good deal better than the first bit!
Test Cricket's 10K Club
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