Thursday, 12 July 2012

Surrey under pressure as Lancashire consolidate

Surrey could be left looking to the weather to help rescue them from a perilous position in this latest Championship game as Lancashire used day two (or the 50-odd overs that were playable) to bat and bat some more, ending the day on well placed on 425-7.

The day began on time again and Surrey had the better of the first hour, in terms of wickets at least. None of the three batsmen which fell in that time were down to Surrey's plans being executed especially well, but wickets are wickets. Ashwell Prince was first to go, plonking Murali Kartik right to Zander de Bruyn. Tom Smith was then run out by the same fielder and Gareth Cross whipped Stuart Meaker straight to Zafar Ansari to give Meaker his 30th wicket this season and leave Lancashire at 298-6 and in danger of squandering a great position.

But although three wickets fell in the first hour or so but Surrey were then made to wait again by Croft and captain Chapple who put together the second 120+ run partnership of the innings. Kartik and Lewis were accurate but Tremlett and Meaker struggled to find another breakthrough. Bizarrely Batty tossed the ball to de Bruyn immediately after the lunch break and he proceeded to bowl a spell of 3-0-25-0 to really get Lancashire back into the groove. All told Lancashire added 32 runs in the four overs post-lunch and our bowlers really were creating very little, admittedly on a slow pitch.

Eventually Jon Lewis' relentless wicket to wicket bowling brought about Chapple's downfall, lbw for a well made 46 runs. He and Croft had arrested the slide from 233-2 to 298-6 and had put Lancashire well ahead in the game. Soon after the Chapple wicket fell the rain arrived as forecast and the players didn't make it back out.

The forecast for tomorrow is much the same as today so provided there is no heavy rain overnight it should be an on-time start with showers coming later in the day. I would hope, in the interests of pursuing a result, that Lancashire will declare overnight and try and bowl us out twice inside what they manage to get out of the last two days. They must surely be aware of our recent troubles with the bat, but perhaps the Kevin Pietersen factor has them spooked.

The innings of Horton and Croft show that although this pitch isn't one made for the strokemakers, you can prosper if you bed in and get yourself settled. Today was another disappointing day but this pitch seems to be offering progressively less for the bowlers. Of course there is now significant scoreboard pressure, and you never play the weather, but it would be hugely disappointing if from here we managed to manufacture a losing position. This is a chance for the batsmen to nudge themselves back towards some form and salvage the draw.

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