Surrey face the prospect of a first result in four matches tomorrow, but increasingly it looks like it'll be the wrong result as rain brought an early end to proceedings with the home side on 164 for 6, a lead of 115.
The day began positively for Surrey as Gareth Batty collected his fifth wicket of the innings, trapping Ryan Buckley lbw to end the Durham innings. It was Batty's fifth five-for for Surrey, interestingly all but one (against Middlesex last year) of those have come in the first innings. Only seven runs had been added to the overnight total and Durham's lead stood at 49 runs. In the context of a low scoring game it was a handy advantage, but the fact that they would be batting last meant that it wasn't quite a decisive one.
Surrey had most of the morning session to bat through and in an ideal world they would've reached parity having lost no wickets. As it was when lunch arrived although the deficit had been whittled away, three wickets had fallen in the process. Roy was first to go as Thorp found a way between bat and pad, adding weight to the impression that he shouldn't be bearing the burden of opening the innings. Harinath was next to go, lbw to Wood for 11 before Burns fell in the same manner to Borthwick's leg spin.
That left Surrey effectively 16-3 at lunch and in a precarious position considering the tail's capitulation in the first innings. After the break the old hands Solanki and de Bruyn had some repair work to do. However they could only muster a 22 run partnership before Solanki fell leg before to Collingwood to a ball which kept very low. When de Bruyn fell, lbw again but this time to Borthwick and after a mini recovery with Davies, there was more sign of the variable bounce. While the wickets were damaging (the lead was only 89 when de Bruyn fell) Surrey will have been encouraged by the uneven nature of the pitch and de Bruyn himself can look forward to bowling more overs tomorrow.
Wilson joined Davies at the crease and as the last recognised batting pair their efforts were always going to be crucial. Davies was batting extremely well and looked set for a second fifty in the match before, just as he did in the first innings, giving his wicket away to Borthwick. In the first innings he missed a huge full toss to be bowled, this time he slapped a huge long hop straight to deep mid-wicket on 46. With the lead at just 106 Surrey were nowhere near safety.
Wilson and Batty made it safely to the tea break but only one delivery was bowled in the evening session before rain intervened forcing an early close.
A look back at the totals in this game tells the story that this one was there for the taking. We were 221-4 on day one but threw it away. We then bowled poorly at Durham in the evening and for the first half hour of day two, allowing them a crucial opening partnership of 88. We may yet prevail in this game, with a lead of 115 and with Wilson and Batty at the crease who are more than capable of extending that into winnable territory. But frankly we could and should be in a far stronger position but for some poor execution with bat and ball. With the forecast tomorrow indicating rain delays are unlikely, a fascinating full day's play awaits.