Somerset v Middlesex: Patel best precedes slump
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Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel claimed a career-best 7-81 as 13 wickets fell on an action-packed first day of the Specsavers County Championship relegation battle with Somerset at Taunton.
From a promising 193-4, having won the toss, the hosts crashed to 236 all out, with a series of attacking shots leading to wickets.
Eddie Byrom top-scored with 56, his maiden Championship half-century, as Patel bowled 29.4 overs from the River End and had assistance from a dry first-day pitch, but also capitalised on some poor batting by the Somerset middle and late order.
In reply, Middlesex slumped to 5-3 as Craig Overton removed Nick Compton and left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who was given the new ball, accounted for Stevie Eskinazi and Sam Robson.
By the close the 2016 champions had reached 18-3, still 218 behind, and they will need to bat well tomorrow to pass Somerset’s total.
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There was no sign of the dramas to come when Byrom and Marcus Trescothick almost batted through the morning session.
Byrom was dropped at slip by on 32 by Robson off Patel and went on to reach fifty off 79 balls, with 11 fours.
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It was the 20-year-old Zimbabwean left-hander’s 14th Championship innings and he had previously been out seven times between 38 and 43.
Trescothick gave solid support and was unbeaten on 31 at lunch, which was taken after Byrom got a leading edge to Paul Stirling to give a catch to mid-off.
The afternoon session was a good contest, Trescothick falling for 37, padding up to a ball from Patel that turned sharply from outside off stump.
And it was 139-3 when George Bartlett, who had lofted Patel over wide long-on for six in moving to 25, was bowled around his legs by Patel looking to sweep.
Tom Abell looked in excellent form in reaching the same score before being run out by Patel. James Hildreth turned looking for a second run to fine leg and then changed his mind, leaving his partner stranded.
Even so, the pair had played Somerset into a decent position by tea but their innings fell apart after Hildreth, on 41, was leg-before attempting to reverse sweep Patel.
Roelof van der Merwe went first ball, caught at slip giving Patel the charge, and Craig Overton, Dom Bess and Leach followed in rapid succession, all looking to attack.
When Steve Davies was last man out, caught off another reverse sweep, Somerset appeared to have let a great position slip.
But Overton then produced an excellent opening spell that saw Compton caught behind and Leach used the new ball to good effect, having Eskinazi and Robson caught by Trescothick at second slip.