Openers shine again as Surrey take command against Middlesex

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Openers Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman built on an impressive bowling performance as Surrey took control against Middlesex on day three of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at the Kia Oval.

After Kemar Roach and Jordan Clark each took four wickets to dismiss Middlesex for 160 and give Surrey a first innings lead of 30, Burns and Stoneman scored unbeaten fifties in their second century stand of the match as Surrey closed on 135 without loss.

In the best batting conditions so far, Stoneman drove impressively in his unbeaten 74, which included 13 fours, while Burns was fluent through the leg side as he passed 50 for the seventh time this season in reaching 61.

It was the first time since 1991 that Surrey’s openers had scored half-centuries in both innings.

It was a tough day for Middlesex, whose top order was wrecked by a high-class spell from Roach, bowling from wide of the crease and consistently getting the ball to straighten on an off-stump line.

In his last game before returning to the West Indies to prepare for West Indies’ series against South Africa, he took three wickets in eight deliveries as Middlesex slumped to 27 for four.

The Barbadian took two wickets in four balls with Jack Davies and Sam Robson caught behind and then knocked back captain Peter Handscomb’s off stump for five to leave the Australian with just 60 runs in eight innings since taking over as skipper.

Nick Gubbins was turned around and lbw to Reece Topley to leave the innings in tatters but John Simpson, not for the first time in his career, organised lower-order resistance, sharing valuable stands of 33 with Robbie White, 38 with Martin Andersson and 42 with Blake Cullen in his 68.

Clark picked up White with a shin-high full toss and Andersson was well caught diving to his right by Rikki Clarke at second slip off Topley before Cullen lost his off stump to Roach, who finished with four for 61.

Simpson hit 10 fours in his first half-century of the season before Clark mopped up the tail.

Simpson was well held in the gully by Ollie Pope and Tom Helm drove to mid-off shortly after he was struck on the side of the helmet by Clark’s bouncer, which left him with a cut behind his ear.

Clark finished with four for 41 when Tim Murtagh was foxed by his slower ball.

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