|-11 J Harding (SA); -9 T Hatton (Eng); -8 E van Rooyen (SA), F Zanotti (Par)|
|Selected: -7 R Bland (Eng), R McIlroy (NI), V Hovland (Nor); -6 L Westwood (ENg), P Casey (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng); -5 T Pieters (Bel); -3 C Morikawa (US), S Garcia (Spa)|
Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy both made significant moves up the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard with six-under-par 66s in round two.
Englishman Hatton bogeyed the first but holed seven birdies to move to nine under, two behind South African leader Justin Harding, who signed for a 68.
Erik van Rooyen (67) and Fabrizio Zanotti (70) are third on eight under.
McIlroy chipped in for eagle on the par-five 13th and holed four birdies and is in a group on seven under.
However, the Northern Irishman accepted he could have been closer to the lead after missing short birdie attempts on the second, third and eighth holes in particular.
“It could have been better but it was still a 66 in breezy conditions when the greens were getting a little crusty and it’s set me up for a good weekend,” the winner of this event in 2009 and 2015 told BBC Sport.
“I’ve got some good memories here and I’d love to get my name on that trophy for the third time.”
Hatton also said he was content with his day’s work after responding to the opening bogey with a run of four birdies. “I battled back well, gave myself plenty of opportunities and putted lovely,” he told BBC Sport.
“Momentum was on my side and I hope it stays with me into the weekend.”
England’s Richard Bland, who won his first tournament on the European Tour at the 478th attempt with victory in the British Masters last May, dropped three shots on his final two holes as he posted a 68 to be in the group on seven under.
Norway’s rising star Viktor Hovland is also on that mark after mixing six birdies with three bogeys in a 69.
A trio of Englishmen are one shot further back. Paul Casey had the best day with a four-under 68, to move alongside Lee Westwood (69) and Tommy Fleetwood (71).
Open champion Collin Morikawa lost ground, with a one-over 73 dropping him to three under overall.