Friday, 17 August 2012

Twin tons leave Surrey in charge

A fascinating final day awaits the London rivals as Middlesex require 209 runs, and Surrey need to find 9 wickets for a much needed victory on either side.

What the home side wanted was a quiet morning session of sensible accumulation to establish a firm base of a second innings lead. For once, that is exactly what was delivered. Rory Burns and Arun Harinath reeled off the kind of two hour session we've been pining for all season. Turning over the strike and hitting the bad ball to the boundary to form a crucial 217 run partnership, Surrey's second biggest for any wicket this season.

Harinath fell but not before they had both hit maiden Championship hundreds and forged a record second wicket partnership for Surrey against Middlesex. They matched each other run for run, never more than 13 runs apart in their scores. Soon after the visitors had the new ball the ever-excellent Roland-Jones did the business, taking three quick wickets and ultimately the final 9 Surrey wickets disappeared for just over 100 runs. A good and timely 44 from Davies the only significant contribution outside the top three.

That left Middlesex with a very stiff looking target of 254 to win. Ordinarily not beyond a batting lineup containing the extravagant talents of Denly and Rogers, but on a turning pitch with Murali Kartik to face, it felt substantially bigger.

Linley and Dernbach began with the new ball but could not find a way through the openers. Dernbach in particular was expensive and was hauled off after just three overs. Kartik's initial spell brought no success but Batty's introduction to the attack was immediately successful with the huge wicket of Chris Rogers leg before for 19 runs.

Middlesex saw out the remainder of the day without sustaining further damage and won't be hugely disappointed with the position they're in. With many, many overs of spin to be bowled, and an inexperienced middle order they face a tough task, but the target is not beyond reach.

Surrey are firmly in the box seats and should not be entertaining thoughts of losing this one. Today was a pleasing continuation of yesterday's good start, and just as Adams must take the blame for batting collapses, so he must take some credit for spirited comebacks such as today's. Tomorrow is as important a day of Championship cricket as we've had all season, Murali Kartik holds the key to what would be a morale boosting and vital victory.

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