Middlesex v Surrey, Lord's, 3rd day

All-round Dexter takes Middlesex top

Sahil Dutta at Lord's

April 29, 2011

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Middlesex 445 (Dexter 145, Simpson 143, Batty 5-76) beat Surrey 203 (Maynard 98*) and 200 (Davies 94, Roland-Jones 4-38) by an innings and 42 runs

Neil Dexter took three wickets as Middlesex consigned Surrey to the bottom of the second division with victory by an innings and 42 runs at Lord's.

It marks an improvement on last year for Surrey, but not by much. The last time the London rivals met here in the Championship, Surrey went down by an innings and 44. Middlesex now stand top of the second division after winning each of their first three games. Given that they won just four in the entire season last year, their start this time round represents a remarkable revival.

The result was set up on the second day when Surrey lost 12 wickets but Dexter, the Middlesex captain and Man of the Match, can point to his first-day hundred which hauled his side out of early trouble as a key contribution. He was in the thick of the action again on the final day - taking 3 for 46 - as his team sealed the result with a day and half to spare.

One of Dexter's victims was Steve Davies, whose 94 was a lone hand in Surrey's line-up. Though never quite giving an air of permanence, Davies' classy off-side timing brought him his highest score of the season so far.

When the day began much of the focus was on Steven Finn but instead it was another sky-scraper seamer - Toby Roland-Jones - who did much of the damage, finishing with 4 for 38 which included his 50th first-class scalp in his 11th game.

Though not yet as quick as Finn he offered more control and got the first wicket of the day when Gary Wilson, who had resisted for the best part of an hour, hacked at a wide delivery to be caught behind for 18. Two overs later Rory Hamilton-Brown prodded limply at a length ball to collect the third of four ducks in the Surrey innings.

Tom Maynard played so well the day before that he can be forgiven for falling early in a lost cause, but the soft manner of dismissal will irk Surrey fans. Dexter had positioned two short catchers at cover and Maynard duly punched a drive straight to one of them a ball later.

All the while Davies merrily drove and cut sweetly towards a century but he was running out of partners as Gareth Batty and Chris Jordan fell. In the end it was Dexter who denied him though as a wide drive-me invitation was inside-edged onto the stumps. Roland-Jones finished off the job, snaring Yasir Arafar and Jade Dernbach, who ended with a pair, in three balls.

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Sahil Dutta Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.
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