Labour brings Middlesex late reward
Surrey 161 for 5 trail Middlesex 256 (Malan 88) by 95 runs
For most of the second afternoon at Lord's Middlesex would have felt exceptionally aggrieved that their efforts with the ball had not produced the desired results. Over 80 times batsman played and missed and Surrey nearly escaped the day in a strong position. Three wickets for five runs late in the day ensured a more even scenario ensued.
Two of the late strikes came from Neil Dexter's patient seam bowling - much to the eye rolling of the remainder of the attack who produced consistent movement and a fine command of line to make run scoring exceptionally difficult. Indeed, Mark Ramprakash was obliged to play one of his more forgetful innings - being made to wait 66 balls before moving into double figures, which was greeted with ironic applause.
He was eventually lbw after making 17 in a shade over two hours. Dexter introduced himself and sneaked one past his inside edge. Toby Roland-Jones trapped Zander de Bruyn in the following over as Middlesex finally saw their endeavour bringing reward.
But for most of the day the attack was luckless. The scoring ground to a halt in the face of the admirably disciplined bowling - 52 runs were scored in 32 overs after tea.
"We can say we were unlucky but if we hadn't had our luck yesterday we would have been bowled out for a lot less," said Dawid Malan, who added 26 to his overnight total against the second new ball to guide Middlesex to another batting point.
"The new ball has actually been the easiest to face, it came onto the bat a bit more and didn't go with the swing as much."
Tim Murtagh was the most unfortunate of the bowlers. He opened from the Nursery End, switched to the Pavilion End after tea and operated almost without fail around off stump on a length for 20 overs. He conceded only 31 runs but remained wicketless.
Corey Collymore suffered much the same fate but at least got one to hold its line to Steven Davies who edged low to John Simpson. Davies thought he had navigated through the storm, bringing up a 122-ball half-century, after surviving an hour after lunch where the score limped to 50 in 25 overs.
Davies isn't the most graceful left-hander and there is rarely a sense of flow to his batting. But he showed an earnest attitude that is perhaps lacking in large portions of this Surrey line-up. He plays most of his strokes in a short-jabbing manner. Through the off side he became stronger as the innings went on; a straight drive in Collymore's second over after tea a sign of his growing confidence. When he fell, the innings stalled.
Ramprakash and de Bruyn were forced to play very carefully. Ramprakash, in particular, was given little get-out, save a pulled four off Gareth Berg. De Bruyn was prepared to play to the leg side off the front foot and picked up two flicked boundaries through mid on.
But the pair's failure to move the score along saw Surrey lose their advantage once both were dismissed in consecutive overs. That and Middlesex's late order rally.
Resuming nine down, Malan and Colleymore played for an hour largely untroubled. Malan controlled the strike and Collymore was often trusted with two balls an over and resisted stoutly, allowing Malan to bring up an extra batting point. The last three wickets added 127 after the first seven chalked up 129.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo