Middlesex v Sussex, County Championship, Southgate July 20, 2006

Middlesex prosper in the heat

Middlesex 344 for 4 (Styris 54, Dalrymple 39) trail Sussex (507, Adams 115) by 163 runs

Owais Shah was particularly strong off the back foot, cutting with great timing © Will Luke

Two crisp fifties from Ed Joyce and Owais Shah, and a belligerent unbeaten 54 from Scott Styris in the dying overs of the day led a confident Middlesex reply to Sussex's 507 on the second day at picturesque Southgate.

In perfect batting conditions, Middlesex were made to work hard for the last five Sussex wickets, confronted by an impish Yasir Arafat who hung around for nearly two hours in his 67. He struck eight crunching fours, and twice cleared the boundary, in a superb 10th wicket partnership with Jason Lewry of 88. After swinging and missing countless times at the tall, languid Chris Peploe, he was finally dismissed in the 128th over when David Nash pulled off a neat stumping to finally give Peploe a deserved wicket.

Nick Compton, who had watched Arafat and Lewry ride their luck with daredevil frequency down at fine leg, failed to take advantage of a batting strip (and conditions) more akin to St Lucia than Southgate. Just before lunch, Arafat trapped him in front for 1. After the interval, in which a dozen or so children and their parents played cricket on the outfield with varying degrees of success, Ed Smith and Shah caressed the bowling with consummate ease. Smith, in particular, looked good for a century, driving with the authority he showed for Kent in 2003 that earned him an England call-up that summer against South Africa.

Shah too batted with his customary wristiness and was particularly impressive against the rather luckless Mushtaq Ahmed, who toiled away in ferocious heat all afternoon. He wasn't quite himself, Mushy, bowling slightly below his usual zippy pace and dropping it short enough to allow the batsman to cut. Joyce, too, played with typical attractiveness, lofting Mushtaq over his head and twice pulling Jason Lewry, in front of square, with reasonable power, perfect timing and unerring placement.

As the church bell at fine-leg rang six o'clock, an end was called to Styris' late-afternoon frolics which had taken him to 54 from just 46 balls, as Middlesex went to stumps on 344 for 4

Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo