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Eighth-wicket pair rescue Somerset

Somerset's hopes of avoiding relegation from Division One of the LV= County Championship were boosted by a lower-order fightback on the first day against Middlesex at Lord's.

Alex Barrow and Piyush Chawla, the Indian left-arm spinner making his second appearance for the county, both scored half-centuries in an eighth-wicket stand of 107 to help Somerset reach 332 for eight.

The duo pulled Somerset around after they had lost four wickets for 33 either side of tea to slump to 211 for seven having won the toss.

Both batsmen went on the offensive and deserved the luck that came their way. Chawla was dropped on 15 by the diving Ollie Rayner at second slip and shortly after reaching his fifty Barrow mis-timed a pull and was relieved to see it drop safely between three converging fielders.

Their attacking instincts were always to the fore. Chawla hit both Rayner and Neil Dexter for straight sixes while Barrow reached his second half-century of the season with his sixth four, a dismissive pull off Tim Murtagh shortly after Middlesex had taken the second new ball.

Until Barrow and Chawla came together in the 66th over a game both sides need to win for contrasting reasons had very much belonged to Middlesex, who are on Yorkshire's heels at the top of the table.

Dexter picked up three of the first four wickets to fall with his nagging medium-pace before left-arm spinner Ravi Patel took two wickets in eight balls just before tea.

On a pitch offering only occasional lateral movement, it looked a good toss to win. However, Somerset have underperformed consistently with the bat all season which explains their position at the wrong end of the table.

Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick has surprisingly yet to make a hundred this summer and that wait will continue after he fell for 64, lbw working across the line to a straight ball from Murtagh.

Trescothick had helped Nick Compton put on 79 for the first wicket before Compton was caught in the gully off Dexter.

Chris Jones was dropped on nought by Sam Robson at short-leg and made the most of his reprieve to score 58 before driving away from his body at Dexter to be caught behind.

Somerset were 178 for four at that stage and Middlesex's decision to play two spinners was soon paying dividends.

Craig Kieswetter was bowled by Patel when he came down the pitch looking to hit over the top, while Craig Meschede over-balanced and was stumped by wicketkeeper John Simpson, who had earlier claimed his 50th dismissal of the season when James Hildreth was caught behind off a bottom edge.

After tea, Lewis Gregory was taken at short-leg to give off-spinner Ollie Rayner his first success but thereafter Middlesex struggled to contain Chawla and Barrow's countert-attacking approach.

Chawla went to his half-century with a thick edge over gully that also brought up the 100 partnership, but a stand of 107 in 26 overs came to an end when Barrow went leg before to Gareth Berg for 65 four overs prior to stumps.

Chawla's unbeaten 58 came off 75 balls with seven fours and two sixes.

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