Surrey chase first win after Middlesex collapse
Surrey 490 v Middlesex 148 for 0
Andrew Strauss missed out on a first hundred of the season as Middlesex lost ten wickets for 161 runs to surrender control of the match to Surrey at The Oval. Surrey, who chose not to enforce the follow on when their visitors were all out for 324, reached 165 for 2 at the close on day three, a lead of 331, and will now aim to bowl Middlesex out again on the final day as they seek a first victory of their County Championship Division Two campaign.
After Laurie Evans fell early today, Arun Harinath and Mark Ramprakash took the attack to Middlesex in a partnership of 130. Harinath was bowled just before stumps for 63 while Ramprakash, who survives on 86 not out, took his aggregate run tally against his former county to 1367 from 15 first-class innings.
Strauss, who had earlier resumed on 54 with Middlesex 148 without loss, was dropped at slip by Rory Hamilton-Brown on 57 as offspinner Gareth Batty found some turn out of the bowlers' rough at the start of a skilful spell from the Vauxhall Road End. But the England captain then moved comfortably enough to 92 - despite seeing the early losses of opening partner Scott Newman and Owais Shah - and a century looked likely.
Fast bowler Jade Dernbach, however, denied him the feat at the start of a spell which could yet prove decisive. Strauss tried to drive him on the up but hit the ball straight at short extra cover after facing 167 balls and striking a six and 13 fours. The Middlesex innings declined alarmingly once both Strauss and Newman had departed.
Surrey, however, deserve credit for their bowling and fielding. Hamilton-Brown, their young captain, set a fine example with a brilliant catch to dismiss John Simpson in the over before lunch, diving full length to his left to pluck a drive out of the air at short extra cover.
Middlesex were 163 without loss when Newman, on 91, edged a lifting ball from Chris Tremlett to the keeper. Even at 220 for 3, when Strauss was out, it looked like Middlesex could get close to Surrey's first-innings total of 490. But Dernbach, working up a decent head of steam from the pavilion end after initial bursts from Tremlett and Andre Nel, who sent back Shah cheaply with a ball which bounced and left the batsman, then also claimed the scalps of Neil Dexter and Simpson in a burst of 3 for 11 in 21 balls.
Dawid Malan departed soon after lunch, gloving a sweep at Batty which sent the ball gently looping up to the slip fielder who trotted around behind the wicketkeeper to take the catch. Batty, who bowled unchanged for 22 overs either side of lunch at a cost of only 75 runs, and did a fine containing job while the quicker bowlers rotated at the other end, fully deserved that success and also the final wicket of Steven Finn following second new-ball successes for Dernbach and Nel.
Gareth Berg and Shaun Udal held up Surrey for a while in a seventh-wicket stand of 44, but Dernbach won lbw shouts against Udal and Pedro Collins - trapping Udal with a near-yorker - while Murtagh was caught behind without scoring off Nel. Berg remained 45 not out, with a six and four fours from 66 balls, but Middlesex's slide left them with a fight on their hands to rescue a draw on the final day.