Cricket: Ramprakash in dashing form

Kent 208 & 157 Middlesex 105 & 134-5
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The Independent Online
Middlesex face an uphill task after ending the second day of their Championship game with Kent at Lord's on 134 for 5, still requiring 127 runs for victory.

After 19 wickets had fallen on the first day, Middlesex began at 103 for 9. They added only two runs and lasted for nine deliveries before Martin McCague finished with 7 for 50, his best return of the season.

Starting the second innings 103 ahead, Kent lost Ed Smith in the second over, but David Fulton showed excellent concentration. He lasted until the 43rd over and made 45 before he played the same bad shot that removed him in the first innings, hoisting Jacques Kallis to deep square leg.

While Fulton lasted the best part of three hours, six wickets fell at the other end and only Steve Marsh, 32 not out when the innings ended, showed any sign of permanence. Nevertheless, Kent made 157 in their second innings and left Middlesex a victory target of 261, which seemed beyond their grasp on a pitch which has been less than easy for the batsmen.

They were quickly in trouble at 41 for 3, but Mark Ramprakash's superb technique and concentration lifted him to 69 until bad light brought proceedings to an early close. Owais Shah helped him to add 70 for the fourth wicket and showed excellent technique and temperament, but fell leg before to Paul Strang playing no stroke. Kallis then joined Ramprakash, making five before stumps.

Middlesex might have to do without Keith Brown's batting as he was unable to keep wicket in the Kent second innings, having sustained a finger injury during their first.

The extent of the injury is not clear, but he will miss Sunday's game against Kent and it is far from certain if he will be fit for next Tuesday's NatWest Trophy quarter-final.

Alistair Brown's rich vein of form left Surrey in a commanding position after he clubbed a belligerent unbeaten 170 at Northampton in their Championship match. Only rain, which removed 31 overs from the day, robbed Brown of passing his career-best 187 he made against Gloucestershire in 1995.

The stoppages forced the hand of the captain, Adam Hollioake, to declare on 581 for 7, the third highest Championship score made by any county this summer. By the close, Surrey still led by 427, although Northamptonshire had eased their frail nerves by totting up 154 for 1.

Brown, unbeaten on 63 overnight, and Ben Hollioake added 104 before Hollioake mistimed a drive from Scott Boswell's first ball of the day. Brown's innings was laced with 24 fours and two sixes, both from the bowling of the off- spinner Jeremy Snape, and it came from just 182 balls.

His seventh-wicket stand of 120 in 26 overs with Jonathan Batty saw the young wicketkeeper score just 23 before he fell victim to Tony Penberthy's second run-out of the innings.

In reply, Alan Fordham, playing his first Championship match for a year, pulled Northamptonshire back from a shaky start with an unbroken stand of 134 with Russell Warren.