Middlesex v Glamorgan, Lord's, 3rd day April 17, 2010

Malan and Strauss make Glamorgan work

Middlesex 160 and 187 for 4 v Glamorgan 315 and 219

Middlesex found some batting backbone after a woeful start to the season to ensure Glamorgan were made to work hard in their search of a first victory at Lord's since 1954. Dawid Malan ended six runs away from a hundred, but the loss of Andrew Strauss in the final hour of the day was a major blow with the England captain having looked set for a hundred after adding 143 for the third wicket to raise hopes of chasing 375.

Strauss hadn't faced a ball by the time Middlesex lost their first two wickets and was understandably cautious in his approach before advancing to a 98-ball half century. He rarely looked like getting out until his rash attempt at a slog-sweep against Jamie Dalrymple (who bowled in both cap and sunglasses). There was the occasional play-and-miss - this is April, after all - especially from the Pavilion End where there was extra bounce for the seamers, but after an uncertain start against Worcestershire Strauss is back to the day job.

A three-day finish looked on the cards when Glamorgan made inroads with the new ball on a surface that has offered something throughout. The impact of not being able to use the heavy roller once a match has begun is certainly being felt in the early stages of the season as life isn't squeezed out of the surfaces. It shows up those whose techniques are not up to scratch.

Scott Newman's horror start to his Middlesex career continued when he was pinned lbw by James Harris for a duck, his fourth single-figure score in a row. It was a lovely piece of bowling from Harris, who appeared unhindered by the leg injury which restricted him to seven overs in the first innings, as he slanted the ball across the left hander before bring one back. Newman, though, was all over the place.

Sam Robson didn't last long before he edged low to second slip against some outswing from David Harrison to bag a pair and leave the score 1 for 2. But slowly Strauss and Malan weathered the toughest period and as the shine disappeared and the sun continued to blaze down conditions started to ease.

Malan was the more aggressive to begin with, while Strauss was content to play watchfully and showed good judgement outside off stump. Malan's fifty came off 94 balls with nine boundaries and Strauss then kick-started his effort by twice stepping down the pitch to loft Dean Cosker straight down the ground.

When Strauss fell, Malan became the senior partner and his earlier hard work paid off as he was able to cash in one some loose deliveries. He didn't managed a hundred last year, but has begun this campaign in promising form after top-scoring in the defeat to Worcestershire last week.

Adam London had a tough start to his innings when he was crashed in the helmet by a Harrison bouncer and survived a huge appeal for a slip catch that was ruled a bump ball. However, he couldn't survive the day when he pushed forward to Cosker in the penultimate over and edged to slip.

Glamorgan were given some extra breathing space by stubborn lower-order resistance when it appeared their second innings would end in a hurry. Mark Wallace had produced his second useful innings of the match when he was caught behind off Gareth Berg's second ball of the day and three balls later Mark Cosgrove, who retired hurt with concussion yesterday, edged a good delivery to second slip without adding to his 17.

However, Cosker resisted impressively against the frontline pacemen and added 54 for the ninth-wicket with Harrison. Periods of defence were punctuated with fine off-side drives and it required spin to break the partnership when Harrison clubbed Shaun Udal to mid-on. Cosker was then left stranded one short of only his second half century in 164 first-class matches when Huw Waters pushed a gentle catch back to Tim Murtagh.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo