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Harry Kemble, at the Kia Oval
Friday, July 6, 2012
FriendsLifeT20 South Group: Surrey 154-4 lost to Middlesex 157-9 by one wicket with one ball remaining
Middlesex came out on top after a fantastic finish to the game which saw both sides come back from the dead in a Twenty20 classic.
Surrey had posted 154-4 with Kevin Pietersen and Jason Roy posting 40s.
But Middlesex, who had been at 70-4 and 106-7 won with one wicket remaining with a solitary ball left in the game.
Number 11 Tom Smith was the hero as he hit the winning runs off his first ball.
Surrey won the toss and elected to bat and the openers, Kevin Pietersen and Steven Davies, both looked in good touch, striking boundaries in the first two overs.
The solid, yet innovative, start was the kind that Surrey has lacked so often in this year’s competition.
Middlesex captain Neil Dexter rotated his bowlers, the south Londoners produced an array of shots, scoring seven boundaries and rotating the strike, to reach 50 without loss after the first six overs.
Pietersen used his feet against Paul Stirling and hoisted him for six over long-on to put him on 24 in the eighth over.
Critics would probably point to this being a dead rubber and say why had the England star not done this sooner, but it was wonderful to watch.
Davies was more than adequate support for the South African playing particularly well off his legs to move to 36 off 28 after nine overs.
At the half-way stage Surrey were 76-0 and looked on course to set a target north of 160.
Ollie Rayner seemed to be the only bowler of any variety to be able to contain Davies and Pietersen - his two overs going for just 12.
Yet in the next over Middlesex got the breakthrough they needed.
The left arm spin of Tom Smith bowled Davies for 37 after the former Worcester man played down the wrong line
However, the arrival of the powerful Jason Roy did not slow the home side’s tempo.
The right hander scythed Dexter back over his head in the fourteenth over to score the second maximum of the innings.
The home side were looking to push onto 170 but then the part-time leg-spin of Dawid Malan caught Pietersen off guard and he nicked behind for 42, although the England star was unhappy about the decision.
After 15 overs Surrey, who were bowled out for just 88 the night before against the Kent, were 109-2.
The south Londoners were finding their feet against the group’s bottom placed side.
Jason Roy took to Malan smashing the biggest six of the innings to move him to 30 as Surrey’s ‘box office’ batting line-up were finally coming to the party.
After the destructive Roy lambasted his second six down the ground you were left to wonder why the skipper had chosen to complete his four overs at the cost of 9.5 runs per over, while Rayner had only been going at a run-a-ball from his two overs.
With seven balls remaining Roy took one swing too many and was comprehensively bowled by Steven Cook but had scored an impressive 26-ball 40.
When Zafir Ansari laced a leg stump half volley through midwicket the score passed Surrey’s highest T20 score this season of 149 against the same opposition.
The south Londoners finished on 154-3 with Gary Wilson, who replaced Zander de Bruyn in the line-up, finishing 21 not out with Ansari on six
Middlesex flew out of the blocks with three boundaries in the first three balls showing that they were keen to enjoy their penultimate T20 of the season.
Dexter, who had been so poor with the ball, made up for it with the bat racing to 13 after the first over.
However, Paul Stirling – a revelation in 20-over cricket opening the batting – drove down captain Gareth Batty’s throat to give Surrey their first wicket.
Number three Crook then hit successive sixes and two fours off Dirk Nannes scoring 21 runs of the over.
The fireworks continued with the diminutive Dexter being unconcerned about Tremlett and he sauntered down the pitch to hit his fourth boundary.
If Middlesex were lacking confidence after a dismal campaign they certainly were not showing it as they cruised to 50 inside four overs.
However, Surrey got themselves back into the match with two wickets in balls.
Crook on 25 chipped to Zander de Bruyn at midwicket.
And when Adam Rossington charged Murali Kartik second ball and was stumped the good work seemed to have been undone with three wickets down for 52.
Middlesex were 58 for three at the end of the powerplay.
Tremlett once again showed his international credentials with a spell of three overs for 18 taking the two wickets with the fielding restrictions in place.
The Panthers needed Dexter to anchor the innings if this young side was going to turn around a run of six losses on the bounce.
This point became an absolute necessity when Malan played all around Ansari and was clean bowled to leave Middlesex on 70 with four down after eight overs.
Shuffling along Middlesex lifted themselves up to 89 after 11 overs – 67 runs away from Surrey’s total 154-3.
But De Bruyn bowling from the Vauxhall End took the key wicket of Dexter for 41.
All the skipper’s good work undone by pulling straight to Pietersen at cow corner.
Surrey’s stranglehold over Middlesex’s batsmen continued when Batty got one to spin and John Simpson was bowled for 16.
Pietersen took his second catch of the match when Berg lobbed the ball to him at midwicket on 106.
The loss of two batsmen in quick succession twice in the innings had seemingly Middlesex’s fate in front of a 15,090 crowd – the largest of the season across the country.
But a straight six from 20-year-old Ollie Wilkin kept his side in the hunt moving the ratio to 25 off 19.
The Ealing-born batsman had only made his debut on Thursday but he was unnerved at the crease moving his side to within 12 of Surrey.
When lower-order batsman Rayner and Wilkin came together Middlesex needed 49 off 35 balls.
This was not the first time Rayner had put his hand up to save his side with some notable performances with the bat in the championship.
With seven needed off seven, Tremlett was pulled for four through square-leg leaving the Panthers in touching distance.
However, this supposed dead match still had a twist.
Rayner trying to chip the infield, to seal the game in style, was fantastically caught by Batty at mid-off.
Three off four balls were still needed and the onus had swung back to the home side.
Wilkin without his more experienced partner decided to win the match in singles.
But was run out as Batty, once again, the hero when he ran out the youngster running to the bowler’s end.
With two needed and another batsman at the crease it was anyone’s guess who was going to leave tonight with their pride intact.
But Smith, the unlikely hero, pierced the ring of in-fielders, stroking Nannes for four.