County Championship: Surrey boost hopes of first-innings lead against Somerset
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cooper Associates County Ground (day two)|
|Surrey 380: Burns 107, Elgar 103; Gregory 3-52, Leach 3-85|
|Somerset 243-5: Hildreth 90, Azhar 60, Davies 54*|
|Somerset (3 pts) trail Surrey (5 pts) by 137 runs|
Surrey removed Somerset's James Hildreth for 90 late on day two to boost their hopes of a first-innings lead in a close contest at Taunton.
The hosts closed on 243-5 in reply to Surrey's 380 all out.
Azhar Ali (60) struck a 49-ball fifty in Somerset's reply but his tame dismissal started a sequence of three quick wickets either side of tea.
Hildreth found a solid partner in Steven Davies (54 not out) but was then caught and bowled by Rikki Clarke.
Somerset still trail by 137 runs but, with the experienced Davies making it safely through to the close alongside Lewis Gregory, the match is delicately poised and the home side will hope to edge closer to Surrey's first-innings score on day three.
The visitors were 330-6 overnight and Clarke (59 not out) helped them add 50 runs on the second morning, although they may have expected a higher total having been 265-2 at one stage on the first day.
Somerset's England spinner Jack Leach took three of Surrey's last four wickets, but they then lost Marcus Trescothick early, the veteran opener edging behind off Conor McKerr for just four.
Pakistan batsman Azhar and Hildreth counter-attacked and scored at more than five runs per over during their second-wicket partnership of 94.
Captain Tom Abell and George Bartlett fell cheaply but, from 141-4, Hildreth and Davies steadied the innings.
Hildreth looked on course for his 46th first-class century until he chipped a return catch back to veteran seamer Clarke off a leading edge.
Somerset batsman James Hildreth:
"It's bitter sweet. When you get into a position like that, you always want to go on and make a really big score. It's frustrating to get out like that, especially when you are a senior guy, but at least I made a contribution.
"That's the most positive Azhar Ali has played this season and, like me, he got a decent start. Also like me, he will be frustrated at getting out when well set.
"Fortunately, Steve Davies batted really well and it will be great if he can go on and convert his 50 into a big hundred when we come back in the morning. He is certainly playing well enough for that to be a possibility."
Surrey all-rounder Rikki Clarke:
"Obviously we would have liked more, but 380 is still a decent score. The wicket slowed up a little bit and it became more difficult to score quickly. But we took wickets at regular intervals.
"We felt we could have got a few more runs, but we're still in a pretty good position after what was a fairly difficult day. The guys have been in the white-ball mind-set and now they've had to switch to a red ball.
"I felt in pretty good touch with the bat (after injury) and it was good to get James Hildreth out. That was a key wicket."