Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Surrey start well but Notts fight hard

The forecast rain failed to materialise and remarkably a full day's play was possible at Trent Bridge. The game is finely poised as although Surrey had the hosts on the ropes mid way through the afternoon, an evening rally brought them back into the game.

Confusion reigned at the start of the day as Surrey first released an XI featuring a seam attack of Dernbach, Linley and Tremlett before swiftly revising it to include Meaker over Tremlett. Surrey's Mark Church was at pains to suggest that Tremlett was not injured but simply not picked. Given that Andy Flower was in touch with Chris Adams when Tremlett was not selected for Surrey's first game its hard to imagine that Adams' mobile won't be ringing again soon. From Surrey's perspective it was a good call, all three of Meaker, Dernbach and Linley have bowled well and taken wickets at times this season. Tremlett, frankly, has not.

Gareth Batty duly won his second consecutive toss as captain and opted to have a bowl. Notts' stand-in captain, James Taylor, would also have bowled and his openers won't have been relishing the task at hand. Taylor was skippering his side because of the late withdrawal of regular captain Chris Read with a stiff neck. Remarkably this is the first game Read has missed for Notts since September 2006 - a run of 98 consecutive games.

The Nottinghamshire openers trooped out at 11am to face Linley and Dernbach and it wasn't long before one of them, Alex Hales, was tropping back in again. Dernbach, bowling the third over of the day, plucked Hales' middle and leg stumps out of the ground with a perfect yorker. It's not the first time this season that Dernbach has surprised a top order batsman with such a delivery, he also accounted for Somerset's Nick Compton in the same fashion.

Surrey's opening bowlers restricted Notts very well. Linley in particular bowled a remarkable spell of 10 overs on the bounce, conceding just 7 runs in the process and forcing the batsman to play regularly. After 25 overs Nottinghamshire were crawling along at barely two runs an over. When Meaker was introduced into the attack he maintained the pressure, a relief after his poor spell with the new ball against Durham. Indeed in his fourth over and just seven minutes before lunch he snuck a delivery through Ed Cowan's gate to clean bowl him. Both openers were gone with barely 50 runs on the board.

Michael Lumb resisted well through the morning and into the afternoon session but with the score on 83 Meaker was in action again as Lumb became his second victim. Captain Taylor was joined by Samit Patel and the pair began to score more comfortably. They put on 60 together before Patel edged a Tim Linley delivery to slip. It was a deserved success for Linley who frequently bowls well without taking the wickets his bowling warrants. At 143-4 Surrey had forced an opening and they took it...up to a point.

Riki Wessels was dropped before he had scored by Solanki at slip off Linley's bowling. However the damage was minimal as Meaker returned soon after to clean bowl Wessels for just one. Surrey continued to chip away and Linley bagged the crucial wicket of Taylor just a few overs later as he played on with the score on 168. Paul Franks, returning to the Notts side, could only last a further five overs before poking at a Meaker delivery to give the Surrey quick his fourth scalp.

Nottinghamshire went to tea on 185-7 and Surrey were in the ascendancy. However a valiant partnership of 66 runs between Steven Mullaney and Ajmal Shahzad gave Notts first a glimmer and then a full blown beam of hope. Shahzad, who famously hit a first ball six to help tie an ODI for England, was admirably restrained as he scored just 8 runs from 84 deliveries. By the time they were parted the score had reached 247. Mullaney was joined by Luke Fletcher and they added a further 18 quick runs to frustrate Surrey some more. Tim Linley then trapped the danger man Mullaney leg before for a well made 68 and the visitors again had their tails up. However the tenth wicket pair of Fletcher and Gurney saw out the final four and a half overs of the day to make the day even, or perhaps even put Notts slightly ahead.

The end to the day had a tedious familiarity to it. Nottinghamshire's eighth, ninth and tenth wickets have thus far put on 92 wickets and that may yet prove the difference between the two sides. Tomorrow is likely to be another cloudy and damp day, possibly with the odd rain break. Not conditions for batting (Edit: the forecast for tomorrow has improved somewhat - it may be significantly better than today!). Getting on terms in this game is going to be quite a challenge.

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