Thursday, 12 April 2012

Surrey let Middlesex off the hook at Lord's

A rain interrupted day at Lord's ended with Middlesex probably just the happier of the two sides, closing the day at 225-9 with the excellent Dawid Malan still at the crease unbeaten on 62.

Surrey omitted Jason Roy again, preferring the allround talents of Gareth Batty instead. Steven Davies came in and Stuart Meaker was surprisingly dropped in favour of Tim Linley, the only two changes from the XI against Sussex. Hamilton-Brown won the toss and he elected to have a bowl, there was a fair bit of cloud cover and moisture in the air, it looked a good decision.

The bowlers didn't back him up immediately though. It was 40 minutes before Jon Lewis made the breakthrough, having Joe Denly caught behind and Tim Linley had a particularly poor start. Hamilton-Brown meanwhile puzzled again by turning to Zander de Bruyn as first change bowler. He wobbled the ball around for five overs but it wasn't until Dernbach was belatedly introduced into the attack in the 18th over that the second breakthrough was made. Quite why the captain thought de Bruyn was a more likely wicket taker in the circumstances is beyond me.

66-2 became 88-2 at lunch and Middlesex would have been much the happier of the two sides. However after lunch and over an hour's lost play to a rain delay, Surrey came right back into the game. Tim Linley, after switching from the pavilion end, was vastly improved. Having bowled his first three overs for 14 runs, he then proceeded to bowl nine overs, returning 2-15, clean bowling Robson and Berg.

Jade Dernbach was also in fine fettle and at one stage had brilliant figures of 3-13 off 8 overs, Rogers, Dexter and Simpson his victims - the latter two in consecutive balls. Middlesex were reduced to 129-7, but Dawid Malan was holding firm at one end. He was joined by Tim Murtagh and just as we did against Sussex, we let the tail end cobble together plenty of runs. The 8th and 9th wicket partnerships added 94 runs, Chris Jordan was too loose and gave away three no-balls for good measure. What could've been 150 all out is now 225-9.

It's always hard to judge a pitch until both sides have batted but this seems to be one of those where hard graft early in an innings will pay dividends eventually. Surrey's dashing strokemakers would do well to analyse Malan's dogged innings and try and repeat it.

With the new ball just an over away tomorrow morning Surrey will want to knock over the last batsman in double quick time. The weather tomorrow is likely to be similar to today so batting won't be easy. From a position where it looked like we would dominate, we now have a real fight on our hands. The game against Sussex suggests we're up to the task, let's hope tomorrow proves it.

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