CLOSE OF PLAY: Middlesex 361 for 8

James Fuller and James Harris produced an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 149 as Middlesex took a grip the Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.

Starting the second day on 51 for one in reply to 236, the visitors had struggled to 212 for eight when Fuller walked out to join his fellow seamer with first innings lead still in the balance.

By the close, Middlesex had moved to 361 for eight and led by 125.

Fuller was unbeaten on a career-best 84, while Harris was 69 not out.

It was a game-changing partnership. Jim Allenby ended the day with four for 67, his best bowling figures for Somerset, but the loss of Jamie Overton to a back injury only three balls into his first over of the day proved a major blow for the hosts.

The morning session began encouragingly for Somerset when Stevie Eskinazi chipped the opening delivery from Craig Overton straight to James Hildreth at mid-wicket. It was 74 for three when Dawid Malan inside edged a delivery from Peter Trego onto his stumps, but Nick Gubbins was going well, reaching a 72-ball half-century, with 6 fours and a six.

Gubbins was next out for 67, caught at second slip by Marcus Trescothick, diving to his right, off Allenby, having spurned a similar chance in the previous over, bowled by Tim Groenewald. Allenby quickly followed up by having John Simpson caught behind for a duck and bowling James Franklin, shouldering arms, in an impressive spell of medium-pace from the River End.

At lunch Middlesex looked in trouble at 146 for six, but Jamie Overton had already been forced off and a key moment followed soon after the interval when wicketkeeper Alex Barrow dropped a straightforward chance offered by George Bailey, who was on 43.

Bailey went on to a 96-ball half-century, with 8 fours. Still Somerset looked on top when Ollie Rayner was caught at first slip by Allenby off Craig Overton to make it 177 for seven. Bailey fell for 71, caught by Overton at first slip off Allenby, but the time used up by his reprieve saw the pitch flatten out.

Fuller and Harris took full advantage, the former moving to a half-century off 72 balls, with 5 fours and a six. Harris was more patient, but followed to the same landmark off 145 deliveries, with 5 fours.

Neither gave a chance as, with the sun shining, their partnership reached three figures in 31 overs.

The frustration for Somerset continued as Fuller went past his previous best first class score of 73, made for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan last season.

The pair secured a fourth batting point in the 109th over, having established a Middlesex record for a ninth-wicket stand against Somerset, set back in 1895.

The home side had to settle for two bowling points on a green top and will need to bat long in their second innings to avoid a damaging defeat.

_______________________________________________________________________

TEA: Middlesex 242 for 8

Jim Allenby’s best bowling figures for Somerset failed to prevent Middlesex grabbing a first innings lead on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton.

By tea the visitors had reached 242 for eight and led by just six runs.

Allenby had figures of four for 40 from 20 overs with his medium-pace from the River End.

George Bailey, dropped on 43, led the way for the visitors with 71 after Nick Gubbins had made 67 before falling to Allenby, who also sent back John Simpson, James Franklin and Bailey as the sides battled for supremacy.

Middlesex had begun the day on 51 for one and had to battle all the way, even though Somerset lost Jamie Overton to a back injury after the seamer had sent down just three balls.

_______________________________________________________________________

LUNCH: Middlesex 146 for 6

Jim Allenby claimed three for 14 from nine overs as Somerset hit back strongly on the second morning of the Specsavers County Championship match with Middlesex at Taunton.

Resuming on 51 for one, in reply to 236, the visitors lost five wickets in the morning session, despite Somerset losing pace bowler Jamie Overton to injury just three balls into his first over of the day.

Craig Overton set the tone as Stephen Eskinazi chipped the opening delivery of the morning straight to James Hildreth at mid-wicket. Dawid Malan played on to Peter Trego, but Nick Gubbins reached a 72-ball half-century before Allenby was introduced from the River End.

With his gentle medium pace, the experienced all-rounder had Gubbins caught at second slip for 67, John Simpson caught behind for a duck and bowled James Franklin shouldering arms.

By lunch Middlesex were 146 for six, with George Bailey unbeaten on 43, trailing by 90 runs.