Middlesex and Surrey approached the weekend climax of their LV County Championship clash at Lord's with the match still finely balanced after two absorbing days.
Middlesex took late wickets on an attritional second day to keep themselves in the hunt for a first win of the season, as Surrey closed on 161/5 in reply to the hosts' 256, with all results still on the cards.
Despite the played-and-missed count climbing above 80, Steven Davies and Jacques Rudolph got Surrey off to a superb start, putting on 85 for the first wicket.
Middlesex's seamers found often extravagant seam movement from the pitch but were frustrated by the left-handed pair, who accumulated sensibly before Rudolph was stumped off Ollie Rayner for 45 and Davies fell to Corey Collymore for 62.
42-year-old Mark Ramprakash and Zander de Bruyn, 36, battled their way to the teens but Middlesex captain Neil Dexter and Toby Roland-Jones collected three late wickets to set up an intriguing weekend's action at Lord's.
Dawid Malan had earlier made an excellent 87 for Middlesex, including a useful partnership of 33 with last man Collymore on the second morning. Jade Dernbach, sporting his latest tatoo, was the pick of the bowlers for Surrey with 3/48.
The two newly promoted sides had contrasting starts to their campaigns last week, with Surrey recording a victory at the Oval over Sussex – their first in the championship’s top division since 2007.
Angus Fraser's Middlesex meanwhile had a less triumphant return to the top flight, losing to a George Dockrell inspired Somerset in Taunton.