Coming up against a side with the bowling quality of Hampshire, having bowled pretty averagely ourselves yesterday, I feared for our chances tonight. I need not have done.
Here's what I saw tonight: I saw a group of 11 players who wanted to win for each other. I saw Tom Maynard play an intelligent and powerful innings. I saw an exceptional bowling performance from Chris Tremlett, and I saw Zafar Ansari, all of 19 years old, hold his nerve to dismiss Shahid Afridi who was threatening to go berserk. In the end, I saw us beat the outstanding team in the group comfortably.
Hamilton-Brown won the toss and elected to bat, as expected with some fairly short straight boundaries. However the man most likely to exploit those short boundaries, Jason Roy, departed in the second over to a pretty poor shot, scooping the ball into Imran Tahir's hands at short fine leg. Steve Davies was then caught behind just as he looked like he was making himself comfortable, but there was no panic.
Hamilton-Brown hit Imran Tahir for six and was then caught trying for another - a mistake which Tom Maynard conspicuously did not make. After each of Maynard's two sixes he played a calm, simple shot for a single, he's a smart cookie. We accumulated runs at a good rate, but Hampshire were bowling well. As the innings threatened to peter out, Zafar Ansari cracked his first ball beautifully down the ground and finished the innings with a lofted four off Shahid Afridi.
A target of 152 against a deep-batting Hampshire side looked shaky, but Surrey started in the best possible fashion. Arafat had Adams caught behind with no runs on the board and Vince, McKenzie and Ervine all followed him back to the dressing room with the score still yet to pass 10. Dawson and Afridi threatened with a partnership of 51 in six overs before Ansari, in another nerveless display, got rid of the dangerman.
Thereafter it was a ruthless performance and in truth Hampshire did well to get within 40 runs. Chris Adams, speaking after the match said it was the "best performance" in his time as cricket manager, and I probably wouldn't argue too hard with that. I like this team when we're the underdogs, they seem to back themselves. Two games remain, a win against Kent next Thursday will more or less see us qualified. Well played tonight gentlemen, keep it up!
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