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Burns turns the heat on Middlesex

Burns turns the heat on Middlesex

The Lord's crowd might have been prepared for seeing plenty of compact left-handed batsmanship after Surrey won the toss and elected to bat on day on of their LV= County Championship fixture with Middlesex - but it was the impressive Rory Burns rather than Graeme Smith who provided it.

Burns' patient ton is his second in four first-class knocks so far this summer and he passed 1,000 first-class runs when he reached 70.

Not that his five-hour, 251 ball ton was always particularly pretty to watch.

Australia have brought in Graeme Hick in an attempt to improve the ability of their young batsmen to occupy the crease for long periods of time, but on current evidence their Ashes counterparts have little to worry about.

Cardiff MCCU graduate Burns' name can be added to a list which includes Joe Root, Varun Chopra, James Taylor and Jonny Bairstow who have made excellent starts to 2013 and who must be viewed with jealous eyes from Down Under as they wrack-up big scores in the first-class game.

Surrey can be grateful that the home-grown element in their top order has been in such fine fettle so far in 2013 as Smith's impact has been minimal. He departed in the first half-hour, prodding at a full delivery from Murtagh and edging low to Dawid Malan at first slip.

Given Smith's record at Lord's (he has two Test tons at the Home of Cricket, including the highest total by an overseas batsman) and Middlesex's rampant bowling performances so far this summer, the home fans would have been expecting regular wickets to fall.

But it wasn't until after Tea that Middlesex were successful again. Arun Harinath joined Burns and played in even more circumspect fashion up to and after Lunch. It took until the 52nd over before the century was reached, thanks to a combination of some accurate seam bowling and watchful batting.

The pedal was finally given a nudge closer to the metal after both Harinath and Burns reached their 50s, and Middlesex had only themselves to blame for a couple of chances shelled.

Steven Finn - who looked to be bowling slightly within himself at times - persuaded Harinath to cut at one too close to him and after a silky cameo from Vikram Solanki (43) Murtagh finally dismissed Burns, who played a drive onto his stumps.

The pitch looked comfortable for batting all day, with few balls beating the edge, and Middlesex can at least compliment themselves on keeping the run rate under three runs per over.

But with six wickets to play with the visitors have given themselves a perfect opportunity to amass a huge first-innings total.

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