The remarkable Kumar Sangakkara frustrated middlesex for the second time in three days at Lord's, reaching his 60th first-class century and adding an unbeaten 116 to his first innings 114 to lead Surrey's resistance in the specsavers County Championship's London derby.
The unveiling of a portrait of himself in the Lord’s pavilion, just before this match, seems to have inspired the 39-year-old Sri Lankan great to add further lustre to his already magnificent career. Sangakkara passes the painting, commissioned by MCC, every time he walks from Surrey’s dressing room on to the field, and back again.
At the end of a keenly-contested third day, in a game of true ebb and flow, Division One leaders Surrey were 96 runs ahead on 194 for 4 in their second innings, having conceded a first innings deficit of 98 when Middlesex converted their overnight 296 for 5 to 411 all out with James Franklin hitting the 22nd first-class hundred of his career.
Surrey looked in some trouble when Toby Roland-Jones struck twice in a superb new ball spell of 6-2-15-2 to leave the visitors wobbling at 16 for 2. But Sangakkara then joined Scott Borthwick in a battling third wicket partnership which was worth 123 in 44 overs by the time Borthwick was leg-before to off spinner Ollie Rayner for a three-hour 49.
Roland-Jones rekindled Middlesex hopes of victory by returning for a third spell in the final hour, from the Nursery End, to bowl Dom Sibley for 9 with a beauty which left the right-hander to hit his off stump as he pushed forward defensively.
Still, however, Sangakkara remained. His 98th hundred in all senior cricket – a tally which includes 38 in 134 Tests and a further 25 from 404 one-day international appearances – arrived from 174 balls and, by stumps, the former Sri Lanka captain had faced 199 balls, stroking 14 fours. When 108, Sangakkara also reached 20,000 first-class runs.
Running in hard from the Pavilion End at the start of Surrey’s second innings, Roland-Jones had initially seen Mark Stoneman caught at first slip for 0 and Rory Burns leg-before for 10, to one which nipped back up the slope, after also offering a beefy 30 from 38 balls with the bat in the latter stages of the Middlesex first innings.
Franklin, the 36-year-old former New Zealand all-rounder, went on from his overnight 63 to score 112 from 134 balls before slashing Stuart Meaker to third man ten minutes before lunch. His potentially game-deciding sixth wicket stand with fellow left-hander Dawid Malan had reached 130 before Malan aimed a pull at Meaker’s first ball of the morning and gloved a legside catch to a tumbling Ben Foakes behind the stumps.
Malan, on 103 at the start of the day, made 115 from 214 balls in five hours of hard graft, punctuated by 16 fours – many of them elegant drives and clips off his pad – and his dismissal brought in Roland-Jones to offer some thumping strokes of his own in an invaluable partnership with Franklin that realised 53 more runs in ten overs.
Roland-Jones, who pulled Mark Footitt for six and plundered three fours in five balls from one Meaker over, then drove Tom Curran straight to mid off before Franklin finally fell – having hit four sixes and 14 fours in a superb effort – while both Tom Helm and Ollie Rayner were out cheaply in the first two overs after lunch.
Meaker finished with the slightly flattering figures of 4 for 92 and Tom Curran, the pick of Surrey’s seam quartet, deserved his two late wickets.
Middlesex head coach Richard Scott paid tribute to James Franklin and Toby Roland-Jones’ bowling efforts: “Toby is so whole-hearted, he’s a warrior. He just keeps on running in day in and day out and at the moment he’s the first name down on our team sheet, to be honest. His new ball spell was superb and he all but bowled Sangakkara first ball too. Then there was his batting today – he came in and upped the tempo to make sure we got a decent first innings lead.
“As for James Franklin, that was a class hundred. He played brilliantly towards the end of day two, giving us fresh impetus in partnership with Dawid Malan and the confidence to go on and get that lead. His innings and his four wickets in Surrey’s first innings are major contributions and, with them just 96 runs ahead and with the second new ball due in eight overs’ time, we are looking forward to tomorrow’s final day.”