My assertion yesterday that Surrey's faltering batsmen would need to rely on the rain to survive in this match was not only overly pessimistic, but proven quite wrong by an impressive batting effort today. The day ended with Surrey having declared on 366, 18 runs behind in order to have a couple of overs at the opposition under the evening cloud cover.
The day began with the home team in a precarious position and with one eye on the follow on target. But once the wicket keeping pair of Rory Burns and Steven Davies had settled down in the face of some disciplined bowling the panic ebbed away. The pace was not electrifying from either player but while both are capable of aggressive strokeplay, that was not what the situation demanded. Both players played the situation expertly and gradually built a sizeable partnership.
The pair took the team to lunch safely still only two wickets down. Somerset continued to search for a wicket after lunch but it wasn't till the 92nd over that Burns and Davies were parted - and even then it was gifted somewhat as Burns strangled one down the leg side for a superb 115. He really is starting to look like a very special player. The partnership had reached 159 - the biggest of the match and Surrey were out of serious peril. There was work still to be done and although Gary Wilson didn't make the most of his chance at number seven today, Gareth Batty ensured that Surrey proceeded carefully towards first innings parity. He was eventually out for 36 off 86 balls to the bowling of Overton and the job was all but done. Steven Davies confirmed his return to form today with a expertly compiled 147 - he was last man out. I sense this year he'll be of enormous value to Surrey.
With time running out in the game and some very solid sunshine expected tomorrow, Smith elected to give the Somerset openers a test under the lights this evening. However neither Dernbach or Meaker were able to make a breakthrough in the 12 balls they had. Somerset will resume tomorrow on 6-0.
On a slow, flat pitch which has shown little sign of breaking up its hard to see anything other than a draw in this game, but stranger things have happened. A full 96 overs will be possible tomorrow and if the seamers get amongst the wickets early there could be life in the game yet. Its frustrating that on a pitch we deemed suitable to play two spinners, only two wickets have fallen to spin bowling in nearly 250 overs. We'll need to work on pitch preparation if that's our chosen modus operandi.
Today was a very stoical and characterful performance from Surrey. Where they could have wilted in the face of probing bowling they stood firm. It will stand them in good stead for a tough season to come.
Azhar Ali - One of the World's Best
6 days ago