Surrey will be keen to claim their third County Championship win of the season after building a 171 first-leg lead against Middlesex on matchday three at the Kia Oval.
Jamie Smith made it 97 and their final three wickets added 97 to take their tally to 380 before Middlesex lost Sam Robson and Mark Stoneman in successive overs from an opening position of 55. Stephen Eskinazi dropped four overs before the close with Middlesex 128-3 at the stumps, still 43 behind.
Smith beat superbly during the morning and looked certain to score his first century of the season. But, tied down by leg spinner Luke Hollman, he came a few yards further down the pitch looking to clear the middle of the wicket and was beaten into the flight, allowing John Simpson to complete an easy stump.
Until this indiscretion, the 22-year-old barely played a false move and was particularly punishing the unusually uncomfortable Toby Roland-Jones. He welcomed the Middlesex skipper’s introduction into the attack by carving his second ball to the point boundary before driving the next long-range for four.
The limitations of successive Roland-Jones deliveries took Smith into the 90s, but Hollman, playing the first round of the match 20 minutes before lunch on day three, stopped him in his tracks. Smith hit a six and 15 fours and faced 187 balls.
Middlesex had been unplugged throughout the morning session. Tim Murtagh found a thin outside edge with the sixth ball of the day to take out Ben Foakes (22) and the impressive Ethan Bamber, who had previously been put down longer for six by Will Jacks, fought back to launch Jacks through the door for 27.
When Bamber was taken off at the Pavilion End, his replacement Ryan Higgins offered Jordan Clark (12) some width and Clark cut at the backseat, but after Smith’s dismissal Surrey’s tail waggled.
Bamber launched Gus Atkinson (13) via an inside edge but Sean Abbott looked comfortable against the second new ball, hoisting Bamber longer for six and adding six fours in his 48.
The Aussie lost his leg stump trying to guide a Murtagh straight through into the third, but Dan Worrall had fun with 32 at the end, picking his five limits a drive off Higgins to bring 350 and secure a third batting run.
Roland-Jones recovered late and ended the innings when Worrall hit a bouncer at the wicketkeeper.
Robson, who had the highest score with 76 in the opening innings, and Stoneman kicked off Middlesex’s response with a stand of 55. It wasn’t easy with the floodlights on and Worrall unhappy not to be rewarded in the a test of seven new balls. , before Surrey struck twice in eight ball.
Abbott made the breakthrough in his fifth with a faster delivery that drew Robson (22) forward and found the edge as he raced away from the seam. In the next, Atkinson rounded the wicket and Stoneman (28) was rightly aggrieved to be caught by umpire Graham Lloyd when TV replays made it clear he hadn’t hit the ball.
With Pieter Malan not able to hit until later in the innings after spending time off the field, Max Holden was promoted in order. He was badly dropped by Jacks at the second slip on 18 against Kemar Roach but added 51 with Eskinazi before Clark finished the stand in his third when Eskinazi escaped.
Holden were unbeaten on the 42nd but Middlesex have some work to do on the final day.
Report provided by the ECB Reporters Network.