Stevie Eskinazi hit five of his last nine balls for six and the equally in-form opening pair of Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins added a quickfire 146-run stand to their first innings partnership of 241 after champions Middlesex chose not to enforce the follow on against outclassed Essex at Lord’s.

Eskinazi, the number three who joined Robson and Gubbins in hitting centuries in Middlesex’s huge first innings 507 for 7 declared, thumped a whirlwind 62 from 34 balls – going to his 50 in the course of swatting three successive sixes into the Grand Stand off Jamie Porter.

He actually hit four sixes in a row, with another off Simon Harmer before he lofted the former South African Test off spinner to long on from the next ball, and also struck five fours to go with those five sweet sixes.

Robson made a fluent 77 from 84 balls and Gubbins hit two sixes in a 62-ball 64 when Middlesex opted to bat again despite earning a 212-run lead by dismissing Essex for 295, with Steven Finn finishing with 4 for 51.

Middlesex’s second innings declaration came after a sprint to 239 for 3 from 36 overs and, by stumps, needing a surely academic 452 to win, Essex were 19 without loss from six overs with Nick Browne on 17 not out and Alastair Cook unbeaten on 2.

Earlier, a fighting sixth wicket stand of 127 between Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater was the only resistance of note that Essex could offer against the county champions as Middlesex continued to dominate this Specsavers Division One match.

Wheater rode his luck to score a punchy 64, with ten fours, while impressive 19-year-old Lawrence batted with great determination before being ninth out for 75 In all, he stayed for four and three-quarter hours, facing 185 balls and hitting nine fours.

Paceman Finn bowled Neil Wagner for 3 to polish off the innings and Essex lost their last five wickets for 42 runs. But it was a luckless Toby Roland-Jones, who took 3 for 81, who was the pick of the Middlesex attack and he will look to lead the push for victory on the final day.

Essex began day three on 120 for 4, needing another238 runs to avoid the follow on, and were soon in deep trouble at 126 for 5 when Ravi Bopara, on 6, edged an outswinger from Roland-Jones to Robson at third slip.

But the Lawrence-Wheater alliance then mixed some lovely strokeplay with a hefty dollop of good fortune, with Wheater surviving three sharp chances nicked off Roland-Jones in the well-built seamer’s second spell of the morning session.

Wheater escaped on 27, 33 and then 42. First he edged low to second slip where Ollie Rayner could not scoop up a difficult chance, and in Roland-Jones’s second over back another edge deflected off diving wicketkeeper John Simpson’s right glove for four. It did not look, though, as if it would have carried to first slip, so Simpson was right to go for the ball.

Finally, Wheater thick-edged a drive to third slip where the diving Robson got his fingers to it but could not prevent the ball flying away to the boundary.

It was off spinner Rayner who made the breakthrough in mid-afternoon, Wheater slog-sweeping to square leg where Eskinazi showed remarkable reflexes to twist and grab the ball on the rebound after initially looking as if he had only managed to parry it.

Tim Murtagh and Finn, three times, then struck with the second new ball to remove Ryan ten Doeschate, Harmer, Lawrence and Wagner in quick succession. Ten Doeschate (20) and Lawrence were both lbw, while Harmer (1) mishit a pull to mid-wicket.