Middlesex v Somerset, Lord's, 2nd day August 29, 2013

Chawla-inspired Somerset run riot

David Lloyd at Lord's

Middlesex 106 (Chawla 3-8, Meschede 3-25) and 52 for 2 trail Somerset 449 (Chawla 112, Barrow 65, Trescothick 64, Jones 58, Thomas 54, Patel 4-89) by 291 runs

Relegation remains a real possibility for one of these two teams while the other - in theory, at least - could still win the Championship. But on the evidence of today's entertainment it is hard to understand the position of either county.

Middlesex, who led the table in May and have seldom been out of the top three, turned themselves into title long shots by losing to Derbyshire last week. And their batting, openers Sam Robson and Chris Rogers apart, has looked worryingly brittle for much of the campaign.

But, really, nothing could satisfactorily explain their first-innings capitulation to 106 all out, uncomfortably their season's lowest total - not even the fact that Somerset were suddenly buzzing with self-belief after seeing their last three wickets add 238 runs.

Piyush Chawla was the man who topped and tailed Middlesex's misery. The occasional India international scored the fourth first-class century of his career and then made sure the hosts followed on, 343 behind, well before the end of day two by taking 3 for 8 with his legspin.

But this performance, with bat, ball and in the field, was a real team effort - and exactly what Somerset's director of cricket, Dave Nosworthy, had in mind when he called for "guts, character and plain willpower" going into this fixture.

Having been helped hugely on Wednesday by Alex Barrow during an eighth wicket stand of 107, Chawla was then kept company for 38 overs by Alfonso Thomas as another 99 precious runs were added. Even when Chawla fell for 112, Thomas completed an unbeaten half-century while last man Jamie Overton eased into double figures.

If Middlesex felt dejected then no wonder. After all, they had reduced the visitors to 211 for 7 by shortly after tea on day one. But, even so, their response with the bat was pretty feeble - hard though they were hit by Overton, Lewis Gregory and Craig Meschede before Chawla had even turned his arm.

Geoff Miller, England's national selector, arrived in the media centre during the afternoon to watch Overton - his panel's latest pick - prepare for a possible full international debut next week. Miller might not have enjoyed seeing Overton no-balled on five occasions for overstepping the crease (especially with one-day cricket in mind) but the 19-year-old worked up a hostile pace and, even better, had Australia opener Chris Rogers taken at third slip after angling a delivery across the left-hander.

Thereafter, it was a painfully sad procession for Middlesex. Joe Denly clipped Gregory meekly to square leg while John Simpson was superbly caught, low down at third slip, by Nick Compton off the same bowler - those dismissals coming either side of two in two for Meschede, who began his spell by drawing Robson into an ill-advised cut before yorking Neil Dexter.

When Dawid Malan, whose wretched Championship season shows no signs of improving, edged Meschede to the keeper, it seemed unlikely that Middlesex would reach three figures. That they at least avoided one indignity was down mainly to Ollie Rayner - but Chawla stepped forward to ensure the home tail would not wag with anything like the force of Somerset's

Chawla is very much a Plan B signing. The west country county had expected to welcome back Pakistan spinner Abdur Rehman for the last few matches of the season, only for that idea to be scuppered by a rearranged international tour of Zimbabwe.

Instead, Somerset snapped up Chawla. And while he failed to pick up a wicket on debut against Warwickshire last week, his performance here - so far, at least - has been just what was wanted.

Spin bowling is his first occupation. But the 24-year-old left-hander's record shows he can bat all right - and that is exactly what he did here, for a little more than four hours. Extremely watchful in defence, Chawla played with almost exaggerated care on occasions. But he could not have been much more decisive, or dynamic, in attack - especially when using his feet against the spinners to drive ferociously.

That air of confidence was never more obvious than when Chawla sealed his century by going down the pitch to Ravi Patel and hoisting the slow left-armer into the seats on the short Mound Stand side of the ground.

Middlesex made 10 bowling changes during the morning session, thereby underlining their mounting frustration. But while they did not give it away with the ball, one or two of their batsmen may not be able to look in the mirror and say precisely the same.

At least Robson and Malan denied Somerset further successes in the evening after the early losses of Rogers and Denly. But the hosts have a mountain climb - to save this match, never mind to retain even a passing interest in the title race.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on August 30, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    @100_rabh on (August 30, 2013, 11:59 GMT) We'll see how he performs during the rest of his stay here.Maybe he'll do well but in the previous CC game I'm not sure he even took a wicket and had the worst economy rate of all the Somerset bowlers. Economy rate matters little if you are taking wickets but if you're doing neither.. And in the same game Dockrell - the Irish born spinner took 6 for. Maybe Chawla was acclimatising. As I said , we'll see how he goes and as a Somerset fan I hope he goes well

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    well done yaaaar! i wish gauti too wud have played similarly

  • kumar on August 30, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    Well, you can pick from whats there on offer. When a team is skitted out in 20-30 overs, you cant expect a spinner to pick-up top order wickets in English conditions. Jadeja is a better batsman and a better fielder but on seamer friendly wickets, he will play a holding role. Also, Chawla will be fresh from his County experience, unlike Jadeja, who will be playing only t-20s and odis from now till the tour starts.

  • John on August 30, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @100_rabh on (August 30, 2013, 10:13 GMT) Are you not getting a little carried away here? Not sure of Chawla's career stats but I'm pretty sure Jadeja is a better bowler than Chawla a batsman and is also a great fielder. Even in England Chawla so far has scored a vital 100 but done very little with the ball bar removing 3 tail enders

  • kumar on August 30, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    A 1st Class century in Lord's..not many can claim that in their CV in India. I hope selectors and coach Fletcher will take a note of this performance. India will encounter some similar conditions in SA winter this year. If choosen in toring party, Chawla will be in direct competition with Ravindra Jadeja for an allrounder place in playing 11 in test matches. Now Jadeja has proven himself in test matches also but i still believe he is more of a restrictive bowler compared to Chawla who is an attacking option. I would have played Chawla along with Aswin in all the test matches as Saffas are traditionally weak against wrist spinners.

  • John on August 30, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    @JeremyandNicola Blackmore on (August 30, 2013, 0:17 GMT) As a Plymouth lad it's nice to see Gregory doing something. When Tom Daley isn't in action there really is very little to big up about Plymouth

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    Worth adding that Somerset's inexperienced seamers Gregory and Meschede bowled with metromonic accuracy just outside off and Gregory's inswinging yorker to take the first wicket in Middlesex's second innings was unplayable.

    Overton bowled with real pace - very hostile - and while he overstepped a few times and bowled the odd loose delivery, he made the first breakthrough that started the collapse and made Middlesex's batsmen look really uncomfortable.

    So far a match where Somerset's youngsters - no doubt inspired by Chawla - have really taken their opportunity and stepped up to the plate in the absence of Trego, Buttler and Kirby.

  • Mark on August 29, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    Middlesex have just gone completely off the boil. They were poor against Derbyshire suffering from morning sickness every day. Here, they have had another attack of morning sickness: after getting into a strong position yesterday, they let Somerset get completely away from them. The collapse after watching the Somerset tail bat with complete impunity was totally predictable.

    It will take a miracle for Middlesex to take this game into the final day. Somerset will have a deserved second victory and will breath a little easier.

  • John on August 29, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    What an immense day for Somerset. Overnight being 340odd for 7 , I expected to be skittled for around 360 and Middx to be near parity with 2 or 3 wickets down. Maybe Chawla's poor start was due to being rusty and he will produce the sort of performances he was signed for although the wickets he took were only tail enders and we can't expect these sort of batting performances as the norm Also relieved that Tres didn't have one of his brainwaves (a la Warwicks) and chose to force the follow on. Maybe no all hope is lost for Somerset in the CC

  • Android on August 29, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    good job chawla you are a great talent

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