Brett Hutton marked his return to the Nottinghamshire side with 3-54, but a resolute, watchful innings from Nick Gubbins helped Middlesex into a slender advantage on the second day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Trent Bridge.
“It was nice to be back in the team and to get a few wickets and it was great to have Bally (Jake Ball) back with us, getting his five-er and a hat-trick,” said Hutton.
“We got a bit of reverse happening this morning but the pitch had slowed down a little bit as the ball got softer. But it’s always nice to break a partnership and get a new man in.
“We always felt that so long as we were controlling the game and controlling the run rate that if they didn’t get away from us then if we got a wicket that we were always in because they weren’t scoring fast.
“250 looks as if it is about par on here so if we can get to 350 or as many as we can, there’s no point putting a number on it – with Imran and Samit and Bally we’ve got plenty of people who can get wickets.”
Gubbins batted for just over five hours in making 75, scoring his runs from 226 deliveries with seven fours.
He received solid support from James Franklin, with 40, and Stevie Eskinazi, who added 35, as the visitors posted 247 all out.
Jake Ball, who had claimed a hat-trick on the first evening to leave Middlesex on nought for three, added a couple more wickets to his tally to close with 5-66, his best of the season.
Batting for a second time, with a deficit of six, Notts quickly re-established the lead as they reached stumps on 24 without loss.
After the fireworks of the previous day, the tempo of the game was reduced dramatically as the opening two hours brought a meagre 56 run return for the loss of one wicket.
Dawid Malan was the batsman to fall, looking unhappy at the lbw decision which brought his innings to an end on 13.
He briefly thrust both hands on top of his helmet in disappointment, clearly unable to comprehend his fate.
Bowler Hutton, meanwhile, was already celebrating a success with just his fourth ball of the day.
Eskinazi boosted the run rate, taking three consecutive boundaries from the bowling of Jake Ball to reach 35 but was then bamboozled, baffled and bowled by the leg spin of Imran Tahir.
John Simpson busily worked his way to 27 before Hutton found a way through his defences to knock back the off stump for his second wicket of the day and then he made the new ball count by having Gubbins caught behind.
Ball’s return into the attack brought about the downfall of former team-mate Franklin.
The Middlesex skipper, who played for Notts in 2014, made 40 before lifting into the hands of third man.
Toby Roland-Jones presented the same bowler with his fifth success, clipping straight back into the bowler’s hands.
The Division One leaders inched ahead but fell short of a second batting point as Tahir bowled Steven Finn for 10.
Steven Mullaney and Jake Libby wiped out the arrears in the first over of Nottinghamshire’s second innings and hung around until stumps, 18 ahead.
Gubbins said: “From nought for three last night we were staring down a barrel but we battled all the way down to 11 today to get parity and now it’s just a one innings game over two days.
“It was quite a mad atmosphere last night here under the lights, with Jake Ball going off on his mad run after getting his hat-trick but you want to get runs when it’s tough, that’s why we play the game, so I’m happy that I could do it today and get us to parity.”