TOUR MATCH: South Africa 359-5dec drew with Middlesex 311-5
The prestigious Park Road match between tourists South Africa and Middlesex ended disappointingly in a draw but not before the hosts had given the Proteas a taste of their own medicine.
South Africa found the track to their liking as they racked up 359 for five declared thanks to a big hundred from Hashim Amla and Ashwell Prince, who also reached three figures on day one.
At that stage Middlesex were getting far from ideal preparation for the biggest game of their season, last night's (Tuesday) Twenty20 Cup Quarter-final, but the bat was in the other hand on day two.
And as it has been on numerous recent occasions it was Middlesex's young guns that carried the fight, against three of the quickest bowlers they are likely to face in one game.
Coming in at 126 for three after Andrew Strauss (29), Billy Godleman (29) and Ed Joyce (20) departed, Eoin Morgan joined Dawid Malan and together they fought fire with fire.
Malan, promoted to three, started slowly but remained to reach his 50 from 113 balls and by the time he was caught at slip off part-time spinner Prince, he had added 94 with Morgan and taken Middlesex to a much health-ier 220 for four.
But if that knock was important, Morgan's was even more so, not to mention mightily impressive as he raced past 50 and struck three clean sixes on his way to a maiden first-class century for Middlesex, reaching three figures off only 103 deliveries.
The three-pronged pace attack that featured Dale Steyn (0-51) and Makhaya Ntini (0-43), wicketless from a combined 30 overs, and the raw yet arguably even quicker Morne Morkel (1-23), had little success save for the latter's dismissal of England opener Strauss.
Morgan remained to put on another 91 with Nick Compton (27), who was Prince's (2-11) second victim and at stumps on Saturday he had 17 fours under his belt in his unbeaten 109 from 118 balls.
Sadly, with the hosts on 311 for five, 48 runs adrift, the crowd saw no more action as play was called off at 1pm on Sunday following persistent rain, but spectators had at least witnessed three innings of real class, with Morgan's arguably the best of the bunch.
The match had begun with an early wicket for Middlesex first-class debutant David Burton (1-97), that of Neil McKenzie (11), but after the new ball's extra bounce wore off, the wicket flattened out as is the norm.
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith made a watchful 35 on his return from injury before becoming the first of two successes for Alan Richardson, another climbing back off the treatment table.
He also picked up Jacques Kallis (2) as the tourists lost two quick wickets after lunch but from 142 for three, despite Richardson (2-37 from 20 overs) bowling an excellent line, Amla treated the crowd to 22 boundaries and three maximums on his way to 161, with Prince weighing in with 114 in a stand worth 190.
Both fell to Danny Evans (2-59) before South Africa declared at 359 for five but it was Morgan's eminently more urgent knock, perhaps with Twenty20 cricket still very much in his mind, that will live most in the memory of those that watched the first two days.