Surrey v Middlesex: London rivals battling for safety
PUBLISHED: 18:41 28 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:41 28 August 2017
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Stuart Meaker spearheaded an impressive performance by the Surrey attack as Middlesex were hustled out for 247 on the first day of their Specsavers Championship match at the Kia Oval.
Meaker, generating good pace in three spells from the Vauxhall End, took 3-55, including top scorer Sam Robson for 57.
Robson’s dismissal sparked a mid-innings collapse which saw Middlesex slump from 131-2 to 163-7.
John Simpson (40) and Ollie Rayner (38) led a recovery and then in nine overs before stumps Toby Roland-Jones improved the champions mood when he removed both Surrey openers.
Ryan Patel, who is making his Championship debut, flicked to leg gully and Rory Burns fenced fatally outside off stump as Surrey closed on 26-2, 221 behind.
Both sides need a victory to pull clear of the relegation battle in Division One and Surrey, fielding a team with four teenagers, will feel they had the better of things, although a dry, worn pitch already taking spin could be tough to bat last on.
But they will fancy their chances if their batsmen can build on the foundations laid by a disciplined attack, with Meaker well supported by Rikki Clarke and their two off-spinners Gareth Batty and Amar Verdi, who both picked up two wickets.
Meaker made the breakthrough before lunch when he squared up Nick Compton (20), who edged to second slip. Verdi had Steve Eskinazi lbw padding up to his 14th ball but either side of the break Robson and Adam Voges added 63 without too many problems.
Robson passed 50 for the fifth time in the Championship this season, hitting eight fours, but there was little he could do to keep out a ball from Meaker which swung in then straightened to take out his off stump.
Meaker then bowled Paul Stirling, who offered no shot, and although Simpson kept out the hat-trick ball Surrey were on a roll.
Clarke returned to the attack to trap Voges (40) with a delivery of fullish length before James Franklin nibbled at an out-swinger in Clarke’s next over.
Middlesex were struggling on 163-7 but Simpson and Rayner added 47 in enterprising fashion either side of tea before Simpson was deceived by Batty’s arm ball.
A similar delivery saw off Roland-Jones (5) while Rayner was leg before sweeping when Verdi tossed one up.
Steven Finn struck four boundaries and Middlesex were in sight of a second batting point when last man Tim Murtagh (5) drove Sam Curran’s slower ball to extra cover.
But their mood improved slightly before stumps as Surrey suffered those two early losses.