Taken as a whole these last couple of days probably represent Surrey's best two days of Championship cricket this season. And it couldn't have come at a better time. Surrey closed day three on 362 for 6, a lead of 67 over Sussex with three fascinating sessions of cricket left to play.
The day began with Rory Burns and Arun Harinath resuming and tasked with surviving the new ball onslaught from Anyon and Magoffin. They did so superbly, and although neither kicked on today I cannot praise this pair highly enough. They recorded their second 50 partnership in the last three innings and although they both had their fair share of luck, they toughed it out excellently. Harinath was the first to go as he edged a Chris Jordan delivery that he probably could've left into Ed Joyce's hands at slip. Although Burns and the new man Solanki put on a good 40 partnership, Burns fell within sight of lunch for 36. We've lost wickets on the stroke of breaks in play so many times this season, its frustrating because it gives the opposition a lift at precisely the wrong moment.
After the lunch break Solanki and Ponting emerged and looked to build on the solid 102-2 platform laid. However Ponting registered his first failure for Surrey as he edged a Steve Magoffin delivery into Jordan's hands at slip. The ex-Surrey man had had a hand in all three of the wickets to fall.
With an out of form Zander de Bruyn to come and a Solanki who has rarely looked out of form but has equally rarely kicked on to big scores at the crease, there may have been some nerves around. There needn't have been as the pair compiled a superb 177 run partnership to put Surrey well on top. Solanki was his usual silky self and while de Bruyn was hardly fluent, he stuck to his task brilliantly.
By the time they were parted Solanki had moved to a superb maiden Championship hundred for Surrey and we were within sight of a lead. After Solanki's departure - trying to loft Panesar only to find Prior at long on - Davies and Wilson also perished in the pursuit of quick runs.
I was disappointed that we didn't look to give Tremlett and Dernbach at least a few overs at the Sussex openers this evening but as the close approached, so too did de Bruyn's hundred. I hope one man's score is not a consideration in the context of this match and this season. Perhaps now Surrey are looking to pick up quick runs tomorrow morning to pile the pressure on Sussex. If we get a lead of 200+ by lunch all it'll take is a couple of quick wickets to put the frighteners on Sussex. Equally though a couple of quick Sussex wickets tomorrow and a win becomes all but impossible. Ultimately I think a few overs at them this evening would've been my preference, but I've never made a good captain.
At least we have a sniff of a win going into tomorrow, which is no mean feat against a very good side. This performance has been a vast improvement on previous efforts and if we hadn't lost a day to rain who knows what might have been. There probably isnt enough life in this pitch to bowl Sussex out very cheaply tomorrow, but you never know. All results are genuinely possible going into day four, and we haven't been able to say that too many times this season.
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