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July 12, 2011
Surrey 387 and 184 beat Kent 250 and 300 by 21 runs
Spinners Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari bagged a wicket apiece as Surrey clinched a tense 21-run win over Kent in a nerve-racking finish to their Championship Division Two match at The Oval.
The home victory left visiting skipper Rob Key crestfallen after the former England batsman almost single-handedly steered his side to the brink of success with a captain's innings of 162, only to miss out on the plaudits when his side finally went down 55 minutes into the final day.
Resuming on their overnight position of 270 for 8 and in pursuit of the 52 runs required for a third win of the campaign, Kent made the best of starts as ninth-wicket partners Key and Robbie Joseph clipped 10 runs off their target within two overs.
Farming the strike intelligently from the first ball of the final day, Key scampered two leg byes and a single in Tim Linley's opening over then, after another tight two off Chris Tremlett, profited with four overthrows after a wild return from Tom Maynard evaded keeper Steve Davies and flew to the ropes.
The bonus boundary also raised Key's 150 after 329 minutes at the crease. taking 251 balls with 16 fours. Joseph, who took an hour to get off the mark, also played his part by bravely getting into line against England paceman Tremlett and was forced to duck under a bouncer from Linley that swung past Davies for four byes.
With Kent still 29 runs shy, off-spinner Batty replaced Tremlett at the Pavilion End, but again Key milked three from the over to claim the strike once more.
Home skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown opted for spin at both ends by introducing left-armed debutant Ansari who, after sending down a full-toss and leg-side wide, struck with his seventh ball.
As he looked to sweep from the leg-stump rough and steal the strike yet again, Key was bowled around his legs to go for an epic 162. A total of 25 runs were still needed when last-man Ashley Shaw joined Joseph, who enjoyed a let off when he pushed a sharp chance to Hamilton-Brown at silly point off Ansari before finally getting under way with a quick single.
Kent posted their 300 after 50 minutes' play but, from the very next ball, Shaw aimed a pre-meditated reverse sweep at Batty only to glove a simple chance to Jason Roy at short leg to fall without scoring and give Surrey their third win of the summer and, with it, 23 championship points.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?