Two big hundreds on day three of this Championship game ensured that Surrey are all but saved from defeat. Arun Harinath and debutant Ricky Ponting registered three figures as Surrey closed the day withing 90 runs of the opposition.
Harinath began the day with Vikram Solanki knowing that survival was essential initially. One wicket early in the day could've triggered a panic so they began day three as they'd ended day two, accumulating circumspectly on a pitch still very good for batting. An added bonus was the blazing sunshine that graced most of the country today. If ever there were conditions for a match-saving partnership, these were they.
The pair's partnership extended to 45 overs, and 133 runs before Solanki departed shortly before lunch. His innings was perhaps a little too sedate, even bearing in mind that survival was paramount, surely once a man of his experience had batted out 20 overs he could be scoring his runs at a strike rate better than 27.
Solanki's dismissal brought the main course to the crease. Ricky Ponting joined Arun Harinath and the pair put on another very solid partnership and the longer they batted, the more secure the game felt. Ponting scored his runs at a good pace but it was Harinath who went to his hundred first. His third first class hundred was richly deserved and I hope its a sign of a big season to come for him. In a most out-of-character moment he went to three figures with a six, only the fifth of his career. He carried merrily on to 154, a career best, before he was bowled trying to pull a David Wainwright delivery. Harinath has now passed 300 runs for the season at the healthy average of 47, he was also the first non-wicket keeper to score a hundred for Surrey this season.
Ponting, who hasn't faced a competitive ball for six weeks, showed his class as he went to his hundred later in the day. The shot to get him there wasn't his most dignified, as he end up on the ground after pulling a short Wes Durston delivery for four. After some rotten luck with recent overseas signings its pleasing to see the latest one get runs straight away. Here's to many, many more.
Late in the day Zander de Bruyn joined Ponting in a 35 run partnership before Wainwright turned one through de Bruyn's defences. The South African now has just 200 runs in nine innings with a single fifty. His nine wickets have been useful, but they've come at 42 runs apiece.
Davies joined the centurion at the crease and the pair saw out the day without further alarm. Given the number of overs delivered by spinners, and the delivery to bowl de Bruyn, Surrey might regret the decision to leave out Keedy but in reality the pitch has played extremely well for the batsmen throughout. Plus there's the thorny issue of Keedy's form to consider. Tomorrow we'll start again 90 runs behind and in the absence of something really special (and with Davies and Ponting at the crease, that's not impossible) a draw is all-but nailed on in this fixture.
I said yesterday that today was crucial. Yes it might have been a batsman's paradise, but the runs still need to be scored and wickets still need to be preserved. Today we did just that.