Hampshire v Middlesex: Robson and Eskinazi impress on even opening day

Sam Robson
Sam Robson struck 13 fours to register a 30th first-class fifty
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl (day one):
Middlesex: 290-6: Robson 84, Eskinzai 82; Wheal 2-69
Hampshire: Yet to bat
Hampshire 2 pts, Middlesex 2 pts

Defending champions Middlesex began their County Championship season with a solid batting display at Hampshire.

Sam Robson (84) and Stevie Eskinazi's (82) second-wicket partnership of 105 gave Middlesex a good platform after opener Nick Gubbins fell early on.

But buoyed by their opening-round win over Yorkshire, Hampshire fought back, despite losing both Fidel Edwards and Rilee Rossouw to injuries.

Their bowlers shared the wickets, leaving Middlesex 290-6 at the close.

Middlesex, who were the only side to go unbeaten in the 2016 season, won the toss and elected to bat first at the Ageas Bowl, but suffered an early setback when Gubbins was caught low down by Rossouw at second slip off Edwards' bowling.

After combining for the first wicket, both Edwards and Rossouw left the field - the fast bowler was forced off with a strain after bowling just 5.1 overs, while Rossouw suffered a finger injury attempting a catch.

Robson and Eskinazi took the away side to lunch at 84-1, but were fortunate to stay at the crease much longer as Robson was dropped at second slip on 40, while Eskinazi offered a chance to extra cover on 58.

Former England opener Robson looked fluent as he approached a 18th first-class century, but Gareth Berg had him caught at second slip by Jimmy Adams before Dawid Malan (43) edged Brad Wheal to slip to leave his side 220-3.

Eskinazi was then bowled by Sean Ervine, Adam Voges (24) played onto his stumps from Kyle Abbott and John Simpson sliced to point to expose the lower order at 269-6.

However, captain James Franklin (17 not out) and Toby Roland-Jones (10 not out) reached stumps untroubled to complete a fairly even opening day.

Hampshire director of cricket Giles White told BBC Radio Solent:

"I think we came back well. The lads stuck to their task well and finished the day nicely. But they were a little bit slow up front - a couple of missed chances - but overall I'm relatively pleased with the day.

"Fidel has a hamstring niggle which kept him off the pitch. We'll reassess tomorrow but obviously it's disappointing not to have him out there because he was just hitting his straps and starting to bowl very well when he had to come off.

"We think Rilee has chipped a bone in his finger which is disappointing, but we'll have a look tomorrow and see whether he can bat or not."

Middlesex opener Sam Robson told BBC Radio London:

"On the first day of the year it's always good to get a few runs and settle the nerves and we're in a pretty good position, so it's a good day all round.

"If we can get a few more runs in the morning and then get at them I think there's enough there (for the bowlers)."

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