Friday, 13 April 2012

Tough day as Middlesex edge ahead

An evening session collapse un-did a lot of sterling work by the top order as Surrey slipped from 85-0 to 161-5, ending the day still 95 runs behind and with the prospect of a new ball to come one over into tomorrow's play.

The day began with the visitors hunting the final wicket of the Middlesex innings but Collymore and Malan resisted, adding 33 runs with relative ease despite having to face the new ball (which was delayed for two overs for some reason). Hamilton-Brown's left-field bowling changes continued unabated with Gareth Batty bowling with the new ball just eight overs old, before Lewis and Jordan had a chance with the new cherry. Jordan eventually got the breakthrough though, the excellent Malan was caught down the leg side just 12 runs short of his hundred.

Surrey will have been disappointed with a final Middlesex total of 256, having reduced them to 129-7 the previous afternoon.

The openers knew a solid foundation was critical to eventually overhauling Middlesex's total, and they did a fine job. The Middlesex bowlers gave very little away and 21 overs into the innings just 42 runs were on the board but crucially no wickets had been lost. Davies and Rudolph batted sensibly, taking Surrey to 85-0 before a rush of blood saw Rudolph advance down the track to Rayner, missing the ball in the process - stumped for 45.

Davies continued to accumulate and he added 32 with Ramprakash until he edged behind with his score on 62. De Bruyn joined Ramprakash at the crease and to say they began slowly is something of an understatement. Their first seven overs together brought just three runs, the Middlesex bowlers offering almost nothing for the batsmen to feast upon.

The pair of them occupied the crease for a combined 152 balls, adding just 34 runs in the process. Ramprakash was LBW to to Neil Dexter and de Bruyn fell in the same manner to Roland-Jones. Their dismissals brought Hamilton-Brown and Maynard to the crease, two batsmen you wouldn't associate with grinding out runs. Maynard was particularly ill at ease and he was soon on his way as well, caught at slip off Dexter who was bowling an excellent spell of medium pace.

A first innings lead, which looked likely with the openers taking us to 85 without loss, now looks distinctly tricky. Hamilton-Brown and Jordan are more than capable with the bat, but the Middlesex seamers, armed with the new ball, will be very tough to face tomorrow morning. They will hope that batting in the morning is easier than it was this afternoon - just one wicket fell before lunch compared to five later in the day. The bowlers will have other ideas, one or two balls late in the day were keeping low.

From a position of real strength yesterday we're now scrapping hard for first innings parity. With no Meaker in the side, only Batty and Lewis will offer much resistance with the bat if the current pair fail. The captain and Jordan is now a very important partnership. It is crucial they don't allow this match to slip further.

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