Steven Finn continued his fine start to the season as Middlesex just about had the better of the opening day with Yorkshire at Lord’s.
England seamer Finn, who took 15 wickets in three LV= County Championship innings this term prior to today’s game, returned 4-50 as the White Rose were dismissed for 178, a score that Middlesex replied to by making 64 for three.
Finn’s scalps today included England batsman Joe Root lbw for nought in his first championship appearance of the campaign after breaking his thumb on international duty towards the end of the winter.
Root, aged 23 years and 118 days, became Yorkshire’s second-youngest captain after Lord Hawke, who was 22 years and 15 days when he led the White Rose in 1882, as regular skipper Andrew Gale dropped himself to accommodate Root.
The hosts opted to field and just 17 balls in, it looked a wise decision as Tim Murtagh drew an inside edge from Alex Lees that flew straight into the hands of keeper John Simpson.
Adam Lyth hit a confident 34 before tickling a ball down the leg side, drawing an excellent catch from Simpson off Finn.
Lyth's dismissal left Yorkshire 55 for two as Root came to the crease and the new man was nearly dismissed first ball as Finn's quick delivery sprung up onto his pads.
— Middlesex Cricket (@Middlesex_CCC) April 27, 2014
Root lasted just four more deliveries as Finn struck him square in front of the stumps.
Middlesex seized the initiative five minutes before lunch when James Harris lured Kane Williamson into a rare flash outside off stump and Ollie Rayner took an excellent catch at second slip to dismiss the Kiwi for 30.
From 74 for four, Gary Ballance and Adil Rashid temporarily steadied matters after the interval but Middlesex soon continued their charge with three quick wickets.
Rashid nicked Murtagh's wide delivery into the hands of Rayner before Andy Hodd was out cheaply after his back-foot drive was snaffled at gully by Sam Robson.
Ballance has hit three centuries and two fifties in his last six championship innings but the left-hander was caught by Robson for 20 as the home side took command at 121 for seven.
Liam Plunkett and Ryan Sidebottom stemmed the tide with some intelligent batting in a stand of 48, but Finn finally broke the partnership when the latter edged to Robson.
Steven Patterson and Jack Brooks were then bowled by Finn and Murtagh respectively as Yorkshire posted a disappointing total, though Plunkett was exempt from blame as he was left unbeaten on 56 from 55 balls having hit 10 fours.
The visitors needed a fast start in the field and they got it when Brooks continued his excellent early-season form by dismissing home captain Chris Rogers and England hopeful Robson with only 20 runs on the board.
Dawid Malan struck seven fours on his way to a useful 31 but the left-hander was eventually bowled by a superb delivery from Sidebottom with Middlesex pegged back to 57 for three.
Eoin Morgan was left unbeaten on 24 while Neil Dexter was yet to get off the mark when bad light stopped play.