Hildy impresses again on day two
James Hildreth top-scored with 90 as First Division leaders Somerset stayed on terms with Surrey on day two of this Specsavers County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Azhar Ali and Steve Davies also weighed in with half-centuries and shared in stands of 94 and 70 with Hildreth for the second and fifth wickets respectively as the hosts reached the close on 243 for five, 137 runs behind.
Rikki Clarke had earlier scored an unbeaten 59 to help Surrey achieve 380 in their first innings and then claimed the key wicket of Hildreth in the final session.
Much will depend on Davies when he resumes his innings on 54 not out on a pitch which is expected to offer increasing assistance to spin during the next two days.
Especially strong off the back foot, Azhar Ali fought fire with fire in raising a 49-ball 50 with nine fours. When it looked as though he might go on and attain three figures, he succumbed to Gareth Batty’s off breaks, chipping to mid-wicket and departing for 60.
Hildreth’s rather more studious innings was a high-class affair and, having attained 50 from 80 balls, he was supremely well-placed to register the 46th First Class hundred of his career, when he offered a return catch to Clarke via a leading edge.
Aware of his responsibilities, Davies continued to breathe defiance, going to 50 from 91 balls and sharing in an unbroken partnership of 32 for the sixth wicket with Lewis Gregory, who reached the close on 18 not out.
McKerr proved the pick of the Surrey bowlers, removing Marcus Trescothick and George Bartlett, while Morkel had to be satisfied with the wicket of Tom Abell.
Clarke afforded Surrey’s first innings renewed impetus when the visitors resumed on 330 for six. Quite prepared to play his shots, the veteran all-rounder dominated a stand of 55 with Ryan Patel for the seventh wicket, ushering his side to a fourth batting bonus point. However, he was left high and dry on 59 not out as wickets fell at the other end.
Jack Leach served to keep the champions in check, claiming three wickets in seven overs after being introduced from the River End.
Spearheading a concerted Somerset fightback, he comprehensively bowled Patel for 32, pinned Batty lbw without scoring and sent back last man McKerr, who top-edged a catch to backward point.
At the end of the day James Hildreth said: “I was pleased to get a start and make a contribution, but disappointed that I didn’t kick on.
“Azhar Ali played well for his runs and got them in a positive manner. He looked great and would also have liked to have gone on. It’s frustrating for us seniors to get a start like we did because we the want to go on and make those match winning contributions and get a lead for us.
“Steve Davies played brilliantly and showed just what he’s capable of. He’s a class player and hopefully he’ll be able to kick on and get that century tomorrow.
“We’ve probably lost one or two more wickets than we would have wanted to, but we back our lower order because they are all capable of getting big runs. We could easily bat out tomorrow for a long time and get a lead on this wicket which is starting to turn a bit out of the footholds.
“We’re confident about how we are playing at the moment and that will help us. The guys are in good spirits and feel confident that we can push on and have a good day tomorrow.”
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