Thirteen wickets fell at Taunton in Division One as the battle for survival enters its final week with Somerset and Middlesex both slugging it out to stay up...
SOMERSET v MIDDLESEX
Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel claimed a career-best seven for 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 for four, 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. Patel bowled 29.4 overs from the River End, getting assistance from a dry first day pitch, but also capitalising on some poor batting by the Somerset middle and late order.
In reply, Middlesex slumped to five for three, as Craig Overton removed Nick Compton and left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who was given the new ball, accounting for Stevie Eskinazi and Sam Robson.
By the close they had reached 18 for three, 218 behind, and will need to bat well tomorrow to pass Somerset’s total. 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. 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.
It was 139 for three 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. 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 Nick Compton caught behind and Leach used the new ball to good effect, having Eskinazi and Robson caught by Trescothick at second slip.
LANCASHIRE v SURREY
Saqib Mahmood took a career-best 4/50 as Lancashire had the better of the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship clash with Surrey at Old Trafford.
With Surrey beginning three points ahead of third-placed Lancashire, it’s a match where the winners will finish second in Division One. Surrey lost eight wickets before choosing to declare having reached 201-8 and their first batting point thanks to a half-century from Sam Curran. Lancashire negotiated the remaining nine overs without loss and will resume tomorrow on 17-0.
The visitors decided not to exercise their right to opt to bowl and the toss was won by Lancashire, who did choose to do so, therefore giving both captains the outcome they wanted. There were a couple of early chances for the hosts as Tom Bailey forced Rory Burns into drives that Dane Vilas and Rob Jones got hands to high above their heads but couldn’t hold.
Burns and Mark Stoneman, the Championship’s third and second highest run-scorers respectively, would share 47 for the opening wicket before Burns chipped Mahmood to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid-on to depart for 18.
Lancashire would strike again before lunch, with Matt Parkinson producing a superb delivery that spun back at Stoneman who left a ball that crashed into his stumps. That brought Kumar Sangakkara to the crease in his last first-class game and he was welcomed with a guard of honour by Lancashire’s players before guiding Surrey to lunch at 72-2.
But it was a frenetic innings from the Sri Lankan great, who has made eight Championship centuries this season. Having launched Stephen Parry for six before lunch, he fell for the short-ball trap, hooking a bouncer from Mahmood to Rob Jones in the deep, making just 14.
Lancashire struck twice more before an early tea was called. Mahmood, playing in just his fourth first-class game, nipped one back at Scott Borthwick to trap the left-hander lbw for 30.
Stephen Parry then picked up Surrey’s fifth wicket by ripping one past the outside edge of Ben Foakes’ bat with what turned out to be the final ball before tea, called early due to a combination of bad light and drizzle. Surrey were 112-5 at the interval and Lancashire were in the ascendancy.
But a half-century stand after the resumption between Olly Pope and Sam Curran held up the Lancashire charge. The pair passed the milestone from 102 balls, blending attack and defence skilfully. They could add just four more however as Pope overdid the attacking side of the stand, attempting to launch Parkinson down the ground, the ball turning past his outside edge with Alex Davies completing the stumping.
Mahmood sealed his career-best figures by trapping Rikki Clarke for seven with one that kept a little low before Gareth Batty came and went without scoring, dismissed by Parry. Curran though carried on with his extremely impressive innings, passing his half-century from 106 balls. He went on to reach an unbeaten 56, taking Surrey past 200 and to their first batting point.
At that stage they promptly declared, leaving Lancashire with a tricky period to negotiate. Alex Davies and Rob Jones did just that, closing on 17-0.
ESSEX v YORKSHIRE