Warwickshire 293 (Norwell 64) and 26 for 0 lead Surrey 188 (Foakes 57*, Patel 4-53) by 131 runs
After scaling impressive heights last year, Surrey's 2019 season is still at base camp. Like Somerset, who at this stage look favourites to take their title, they have yet to suffer a defeat, but neither have they registered a win. Warwickshire have tasted only defeat yet at the halfway point are the team in control.
Their most potent weapon, as it has been so many times in the last eight seasons here, in only one of which he has not snared at least 51 first-class wickets, has been Jeetan Patel. The New Zealand offspinner and club captain turned 39 earlier this month, yet has a contract until the end of next season.
It is not difficult to appreciate why Warwickshire value him so highly. On a slow surface from which Gareth Batty had been able to extract some turn on the first day, Patel introduced himself in the ninth over of Surrey's innings and bowled beautifully for 31 overs unchanged.
The heavy weight of left-handers in Surrey's line-up doubtless came into his thinking and he troubled Scott Borthwick and Rory Burns from the outset, while simultaneously blocking off one end. Five of his first nine overs were maidens.
Repeatedly, he turned the ball past the bat or found the edge only for the ball to fall safe. He had three or four men in a claustrophobic cluster round the batsman. There were stifled appeals, oohs and aahs from spectators, but no wickets for 15 overs until, suddenly, three came at once, in the space of five balls.
Dean Elgar, another left-hander, frustrated for almost an hour, ran out of patience and smacked one straight to extra cover. It was a wicket well earned and there were two more right behind it. Patel's namesake Ryan survived his first two balls but nicked the third to Dominic Sibley at second slip. Will Jacks lasted only one, Will Rhodes snatching the ball almost off the floor at first slip.
It meant that Surrey, who had been 73 for 1 barely 40 minutes earlier, were in something of a spot at 92 for 6. Back in the pavilion, Burns was regretting still more keenly that he had played so loosely after working hard to get to 40 that a wide long-hop from Olly Hannon-Dalby had ended up in the hands of backward point.
Liam Norwell, whose free-scoring 64 at No. 10 was now growing in value, had followed up his early dismissal of Mark Stoneman with a fine delivery that clipped the top of off, claimed a second success when Scott Borthwick, trying to work to leg, was pinned in front. Surrey could now think only of damage limitation, still more than 200 behind.
They managed at least to avoid the follow-on. Rikki Clarke, who spent eight-and-a-half seasons pulling on a Warwickshire shirt before returning to Surrey during the 2017 season, launched a counter-attack, beginning with 14 runs from three balls off Norwell, prompting the former Gloucestershire bowler's temporary removal from the attack.
Clarke and Ben Foakes added 58 but the charge ended when a brilliant throw from cover point by Sibley ran out Clarke with a direct hit. Sibley, of course, is the ex-Surrey man who moved to Edgbaston as part of the agreement that allowed Clarke to travel in the other direction.
Surrey immediately lost Morne Morkel, who lasted only four deliveries before Patel bagged him as his fourth success. With Batty at the other end, Foakes completed his half-century, but two wickets in two balls by Henry Brookes left the champions with a deficit of 105, to which Sibley and Rhodes added 26, coming through a testing 12 overs unscathed at the close.
Patel was as pleased with the collective effort as much as his own performance. "To win three sessions today was huge," he said. "To perform as we did all day was tremendous.
"It is only halfway and we have to keep it going session after session. We have a young team but we have showed signs in the last two matches that the younger players are learning about playing Division One cricket and that is very positive for us."