Haseeb Hameed delivered a timely reminder of his talents to the Test selectors with a century as Lancashire moved into a first-innings lead against Middlesex on day two at Lord’s.
The 22-year-old opener, who played in three Tests as a teenager, endured a dreadful season in 2018 by averaging below 10 while his side were relegated from the top flight of the County Championship.
But national selector Ed Smith was in attendance to watch Hameed hit a first-class century for the first time in more than two-and-a-half years as the Red Rose began their bid for an immediate return to Division One.
Hameed only opened the Lancashire innings because Alex Davies had injured his thumb while keeping wicket on the first day but he made the most of the opportunity with a virtually chanceless knock of 117 from 196 balls.
A first-wicket century stand with Keaton Jennings was the platform for the visitors to take control of the game and they ended the day on 267-4 to open up a lead of two runs.
Lancashire seamer Tom Bailey began the day by completing a five-wicket haul as the home side were bowled out for 265 after the last pair of Tim Murtagh (16 not out) and Toby Roland-Jones (35) had added 29 to earn a second batting bonus point.
Although Murtagh bowled a consistent line when Lancashire began their reply, the rest of the Middlesex seamers were unable to gain control as Hameed and Jennings progressed to 88-0 at lunch.
Apart from a difficult caught and bowled opportunity that Steven Finn was unable to cling on to, Hameed offered no chances – but he and Jennings became bogged down as the scoring rate slowed during the afternoon.
Jennings took 133 balls over his innings of 52 before he became the first to depart at 123-1, chasing an outswinger from James Harris and nicking it behind.
With Davies unlikely to bat, Lancashire sent Brooke Guest in at three and he made a shaky start with a series of edges that fell just short or wide of the slip cordon.
Guest survived to make 17 but he was to be the first of two victims in quick succession for Murtagh (2-23), missing a delivery that came back and took his leg stump.
Lancashire’s progress appeared to have been checked when Glenn Maxwell followed, playing on to Murtagh in his next over to leave them 152-3.
However, Rob Jones (55 not out) kept Hameed company after tea while he advanced to his ton, reaching that landmark in style by hooking Roland-Jones into the grandstand for six.
It was Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan who eventually ended Hameed’s innings, diving to take a smart return catch off his own bowling.
Jones went on to pass his half-century and he and captain Dane Vilas (19 not out) had added 36 by the time bad light ended play.