Somerset grab a dozen wickets in a day as Middlesex collapse
Any lingering hopes of Middlesex securing their first County Championship title since 1993 were snuffed out at Lord’s, where Somerset bagged 12 wickets inside two sessions on Thursday to take a stranglehold on the match.
Having been dismissed for 106 inside 38 overs and made to follow on 343 in arrears, third-placed Middlesex limped to 52 for two second time around and trail by 291 going into the day three.
Responding to Somerset’s creditable 449 all out in their first innings – their best total on the road this season – Middlesex lost seven wickets for 44 runs inside 15 overs of a dramatic mid-session against a visiting side battling for top-flight survival.
Australia’s Ashes opener Chris Rogers departed for eight in the third over to a catch at third slip after a leaden-footed drive at one going across him from England one-day international prospect Jamie Overton.
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Joe Denly’s miserable run of form continued when he pushed one off his hip from Lewis Gregory, Overton’s fellow Devonian, to be caught at square leg for eight.
Not long afterwards, Sam Robson (six) edged Craig Meschede’s loosener through to the wicketkeeper when cutting too close to the body.
Meschede’s next ball, a quick yorker, plucked out Neil Dexter’s off stump to make it 36 for four, but South Africa-born Meschede sprayed the hat-trick delivery wastefully down the leg-side.
Poor shot selection accounted for John Simpson (two) as the left-hander drove hard at a wide one from Gregory to be well pouched, low down at third slip by Nick Compton.
Meschede bagged a third scalp by enticing left-hander Dawid Malan (12) to follow one angled across him and feather it to the ’keeper, then Alfonso Thomas got in on the act snaring Gareth Berg (nine) leg before when shuffling half-forward in defence to send Middlesex in at tea on 61 for seven.
Ollie Rayner (34 not out) and James Harris (12) arrested the slide with a stand of 49 either side of the interval before Harris prodded at a Piyush Chawla top-spinner to depart leg-before.
Chawla pegged back Tim Murtagh’s off stump and had Ravi Patel caught behind to see Middlesex batting again by 5.30pm.
Rogers (two) departed for a second time in the afternoon, leg before to a Gregory yorker, and Denly (13) soon followed, steering one from Meschede to second slip.
The host’s miserable second day started when Somerset – eight down overnight – batted throughout a wicketless first session to add 127 to their overnight score.
Chawla moved to his first century of the summer in only his third innings for Somerset in grand manner by advancing down the pitch to hoist one from Patel into the Mound Stand for the fourth maximum of his 139-ball hundred.
In tandem with Thomas, Chawla added 98 for the ninth wicket – a record for this fixture and for Somerset against Middlesex, beating 91 by Samuel Woods and Gerald Fowler at Lord’s in 1901.
The visitors also plundered a crucial fourth batting bonus point before they were finally dismissed soon after lunch by Patel, who finished with four for 89.
Chawla went for 112, miscuing a lofted drive against Patel to long off, then last man Overton fell lbw to the same bowler, leaving Thomas unbeaten on 54.