A seventh consecutive Twenty20 defeat was doled out by our London rivals last night in a thrilling game which ebbed and flowed. It was a loss alright, but not a demoralising one in the slightest.
Adams added Gary Wilson to the squad from Thursday, he had returned from Ireland duty and he was slotted straight back into the side. Bizarrely this was at the expense of Rory Burns rather than the horribly out of form Zander de Bruyn. This was another in a series of confusing selections from Adams. Not only was de Bruyn unlikely to prove the matchwinner, Burns is a key player in the future of Surrey, something that the 36 year old de Bruyn cannot lay claim to.
Gareth Batty won another toss and contrary to Thursday evening elected to bat first. It looked a good call as they were to play on the same strip as Thursday's game, which took some turn towards the end of that match.
For once we avoided a disastrous start with the bat. Davies and Pietersen played well in forging a 76 run partnership from the first ten overs, creating a formidable platform for the rest. Davies' driving through the off side was particularly impressive as the pair picked off the bad balls and ran sensible ones and twos.
Davies dismissal, bowled by Smith, brought Jason Roy to the crease. He nudged the ball around for his first 11 runs, from 10 deliveries before cracking the first of three straight sixes. It had become a signature shot for Roy before his recent run of poor form, and it was a delight to see him dishing it out again. He went on to make 40 from 26 deliveries, hopefully signalling a return towards something like his best form.
Pietersen continued to pick off runs but his dismissal came at precisely the wrong moment. He was caught behind off the part time bowling of Dawid Malan just as he and Roy were looking to hit the gas. His dismissal turned what could've been a daunting 175-180 total into an eventual total of 154. Still, it was a massive improvement on what had gone before.
The bowlers started poorly, or rather Nannes and Kartik did, with 35 runs leaking from their first two overs. To be fair to them, it wasn't always terrible bowling but some good aggressive placement from Neil Dexter.
As always seems to be the case Surrey pulled matters back towards themselves once the powerplays were over as Middlesex fell from 51-1 to 70-4. When Gareth Berg fell to Kartik, leaving them 106-7 the game looked to be Surrey's for the taking, but a very cool partnership between Ollies Rayner and Wilkin, the latter just 20 years old, took Middlesex to the brink of victory.
Gareth Batty, perhaps nervous about going back to Nannes early, chose to give de Bruyn the crucial 18th over to bowl and he did not deliver the goods. One horrible full toss and one limp short ball were dispatched to the boundary, leaving just 12 needed from the final two overs.
Chris Tremlett delivered a reasonable over but Rayner and Wilkin were able to pick nine runs from it. That left Dirk Nannes just three to defend in the final over. The wicket first ball of Rayner gave us all hope, as did the run out, by a very intelligent piece of fielding from Batty, of Wilkin two balls later. However, with nine wickets down Tom Smith sent the penultimate ball from Nannes to the boundary giving Middlesex a one wicket win.
Yes is was a defeat, and yes it was to our closest rivals, but there are reasons to be cheerful. This was more like the Surrey of old, there was energy and power with the bat and they were lively in the field. Roy's return was enough to make any Surrey fan smile, and the sight of Pietersen marshalling the troops in the field was good to see. There is still some way to go, but the team did us proud last night.
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