Surrey are just six (possibly only five depending on Stephen Peters' fitness) away from a victory which would make the final weeks of the season very tense indeed.
Beginning the day already 190 runs ahead of their opponents Surrey started the day in fine style, de Bruyn and Davies accumulating with ease rather than seeking to blast Northants away - though they were by no means slouches in doing so. In compiling a 216 run partnership they effectively took the game away, and Steven Davies bagged his second century in as many Championship matches.
After securing his hundred Davies continued to keep the flow of boundaries going, he was eventually out on 156 top edging Chaminda Vaas behind. Maynard and de Bruyn didn't let up though and the runs kept piling on. De Bruyn eventually went to his third hundred, and 11th score of 50 or better this season. He's been as much of a lynchpin in the batting as Linley has been in the bowling this year.
The wicket of Jason Roy before tea brought the declaration which asked Northants to chase 486 in 138 overs. For reasons which are beyond me, Meaker was overlooked for the new ball again. I assume there is some logic somewhere to keeping the new ball away from him, but I for one cannot fathom it. If he was in poor form I could perhaps understand it, but having taken 5-37 in the first innings you'd think his tail would be up. Even Zander de Bruyn and Chris Jordan (both of whom had a bowl before Meaker today) would struggle to make the argument that they are better bowlers than he at the moment.
In any case, it was Tim Linley who made the breakthrough, first innings top scorer Rob Newton becoming his 100th first class victim. It doesn't seem that long ago that he was taking his 50th, he really has been outstanding for us this year. When Meaker was finally introduced in the 13th over he proceeded to bowl 10 overs on the bounce, and in tandem with Pragyan Ojha they accounted for three further members of the Northants top order.
So Northants begin the day tomorrow still needing 383 unlikely runs to win with perhaps only five wickets still in hand. Ojha is likely to become more and more of a handful as the pitch continues to wear and Linley and Meaker will be a constant threat even as the ball gets older. Wrapping up a sixth Championship win should be fairly routine, and it will take us to within a win of snatching second place from our opponents in this game - and we have a game in hand over them. It is still a long shot, but consecutive wins at this stage of the season is just what the doctor ordered.
Ravi Ashwin’s Season
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