The first day of the new season was dominated by Hardus Viljoen, who was in the runs and wickets, leaving Derbyshire in a strong position after Day One versus Middlesex at The 3aaa County Ground.
Good bowling from James Harris and Tom Helm reduced Derbyshire to 167-7, before a defiant 60 not out from Viljoen propelled Derbyshire to 265 in their first innings.
Ravi Rampaul took a wicket in the third over of the Middlesex reply and further wickets from Duanne Olivier and Viljoen left Middlesex on 45-3 at the close, trailing by 220.
The visitors exercised their right to bowl first on a wicket which offered early assistance to the bowlers, Luis Reece (18) caught in the slips off a moving delivery from Tim Murtagh.
Ben Slater (32) looked in good touch, but he became Harris’ first wicket after he left a delivery which nipped back and removed off stump.
Alex Hughes (15) and Billy Godleman, batting at five, were both out after making starts as Derbyshire slipped to 139-4 and Middlesex began to take a foothold in the opening day’s play.
The ascendancy from the visitors continued as Wayne Madsen was lbw to Murtagh for a well-made 47 and Gary Wilson (6), then Matt Critchley (14) were out in quick succession, leaving Derbyshire on 167-7, with Viljoen and Tony Palladino at the crease.
The pair put on 81 in 92 balls, with Viljoen crashing three sixes in one Ollie Rayner over to bring up his seventh first-class half-century and his first for Derbyshire.
Once Palladino was out for 25, caught by Rayner off Harris, the last two wickets fell in the space of 17 runs, Rampaul out for two and Olivier out without scoring.
After posting a respectable 265 in the first innings on a challenging wicket, Derbyshire’s experienced international pace attack took to the task of taking early Middlesex wickets, which Rampaul delivered in the innings’ third over.
The quick had Max Holden caught behind by Wilson without scoring before fellow debutante Olivier removed Robbie White (6), caught by Critchley in the slips.
Viljoen returned for a second spell, switching to the Racecourse End, and claimed his first wicket of the summer, Hilton Cartwright caught well by Hughes at second slip.
Sam Robson batted resolutely alongside nightwatchman Rayner as Middlesex closed the opening day of the season on 45-3, still trailing Derbyshire by 220 runs.
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