Middlesex batsmen take initiative against Surrey
- Credit: PA
Sam Robson fell just short of his 25th first-class hundred as Middlesex took the initiative on day two of their LV=Insurance County Championship match with Surrey at Lord’s.
The former England opener who made 165 on the season’s opening day against Somerset, battled his way to 95 in a five and a half hour vigil.
Robbie White and Toby Roland-Jones lent valuable support with 72 and 46 not out respectively as the hosts reached 268 all out, a lead of 114.
Surrey reached 105-3 at the close and their hopes may rest on current England opener Rory Burns who will start day three unbeaten on 54.
Middlesex began 40 in arrears with Robson and Robbie White needing just two more for the century stand. These were duly raised from the first ball of the day via Robson’s outside edge which just evaded the clutches of second slip.
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Robson’s 50 followed from 123 balls, but runs proved hard to come by on a pitch with variable bounce.
The partnership reached 133 before Jordan Clark made the breakthrough, bowling White off the inside edge.
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Clark had Robson dropped at slip soon afterwards, by Rikki Clarke, but struck again when John Simpson edged one from around the wicket into the gloves of Ben Foakes.
Clarke made amends for his spill soon after lunch, bowling Martin Andersson, but Burns spurned another chance to end Robson’s vigil on 84 with a regulation drop at slip. His mishap didn’t prove costly as Reece Topley trapped Robson lbw five short of his century.
Thereafter, Toby Roland-Jones led the quest for runs with a six fours and one huge six into the Mound Stand as the hosts secured a second batting point. Topley finished with four for 56 and Clark three for 58.
The advantage looked all the greater when Middlesex claimed two early scalps in Surrey’s second innings.
Ethan Bamber pinned Mark Stoneman in front and Hashim Amla bagged a pair when Roland-Jones had a similar shout upheld from his first ball of the innings.
Burns though played nicely cutting and driving with authority to reach 50 in 78 balls with six fours.
England teammate Ollie Pope joined Burns in a stand of 59 which threatened to redress the balance, hitting Andersson for three fours in succession.
But the Middlesex man had the last laugh when Pope got too expansive and edged behind to depart for 32.
Robson said: "It was pleasing to get a few and make a contribution. Obviously, I would have liked to get a few more and hang in there with Toby.
"We knew first thing this morning it was going to be tough work and that they’d come at us hard which they did. They put the ball in the right areas and were really disciplined all the way through which made it pretty difficult to score.
"The pitch is on the slow side, but there were good balls in there the whole way through the day and it also kept swinging, but we are in a good position."