If the job was to take the initiative on day one, Surrey can consider it job done. It wasn't done in dominant fashion, and at close of play we were still over 200 runs behind, but Surrey are the team in the ascendancy.
Kent won the toss and chose to bat and ultimately Rob Key would've wanted to put more on the board than the 266 his side mustered. They got off to the best start possible, he and Denly put on 80 before even 20 overs had passed. That was before Zander de Bruyn, unusually bowling as first change, made the breakthrough with the wicket of the opposing captain. Key's opening partner was also back in the pavilion with the score on 104.
As the day progressed neither side took the game by the scruff of the neck but Surrey chipped away with regular wickets and that opening partnership remained the biggest of their innings, the next best being the ninth wicket partnership of 36. As in the win over Gloucestershire the team looked to be bowling as a unit, there was not one outstanding performer and the wickets were shared around all the bowlers.
Yasir Arafat looked to be having another middling outing before he came into his own later in the day, his three scalps in 11 overs prevented Kent's tail from gaining a foothold (although he did bowl four more no-balls to take his total for 2011 to 41). 62 runs from the final two wickets is a little above par, but it's less damaging than some other tail end partnerships we've been on the receiving end of this year. Tim Linley was slightly expensive at the start of the day but pulled it back well to end with 2-46, de Bruyn chipped in with another wicket and Jade Dernbach will probably be slightly disappointed to have picked up just one.
With a Kent total that was by no means commanding on the board it was crucial that Surrey saw off the final 12 overs of the day without loss, and they did so in fine style with Davies and Hamilton-Brown registering the fifty partnership in the 11th over of the innings. For all his failure to register three figures in his 14 innings since the Essex game in May, Hamilton-Brown has nonetheless averaged 43 in a position in which he is not comfortable in Championship cricket. He needs just 32 more runs to better his 2010 tally of 808 runs with four games still to come after this one, he'll want a lot more than 32 though and ending his hundred-drought will be at the front of his mind.
Both Davies and Hamilton-Brown will have to start all over again in the morning and it's important that they build a base from which we can push toward 450 and a 200 run lead. Our batting lineup looks an awful lot sturdier when the openers put on 100 runs or more (as do most batting lineups...), that must be their first target.
There is substantial pressure on the players in this game so it's heartening to see them on the front foot so early in the game. As always they will want to guard against complacency - the ball is still only 12 overs old - but our bowlers and openers have got their foot firmly in the door.
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