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Vithushan Ehantharajah at The Oval
August 30, 2013
Derbyshire 219 and 13 for 0 trail Surrey 289 (Solanki 93, Footitt 4-50) trail by 57 runs
The Surrey scorecard tells the tale of unconverted starts and a lower-order collapse that saw the final four wickets fall in 13 balls, for the addition of just two runs. But while Derbyshire were gifted a way back into the game, their bowlers remained diligent to battle hard on a pitch that rewarded patience, whether with bat or ball.
David Wainwright, back in the side as one of two spinners in the Derbyshire XI, enjoyed his best day of a modest season so far with 3 for 46. Mark Footitt bowled with impressive pace and attacking intent for his four scalps, removing Chris Tremlett and Tim Linley in successive balls to leave him on a hat-trick in the second innings.
However, Surrey are ahead thanks to a brilliant 93 from Vikram Solanki, who rolled back the years and dug out a few classics hits - the wristy cover drive and dab through point - to entertain what was a good Friday crowd. Three figures were not meant to be for Solanki although all in attendance thought he merited a standing ovation when he trudged off just seven shy of a second hundred this season.
His dismissal was as ugly as they come; a bottom edge down onto his pad before disturbing the stumps. An ungainly end to an innings so classy it made you feel like a better person simply for watching it.
The wrists were supple yet strong, as the orthodox spin of Peter Burgoyne and Wainwright - right and left arm, respectively - were manipulated to both sides of the ground with such precision that you wondered whether Solanki was in pursuit of a symmetrical wagon wheel.
Aesthetic perfection was still on course when he passed fifty with a skipping drive for a straight six off Burgoyne that finished dead straight. A few loose drives squirted behind point, along with a deflection through a vacant third slip that could be put down to nous rather than negligence. Solanki aside - who is the only player to pass fifty in the match so far - none of the Surrey batsmen who played themselves in stayed around long enough to make it count.
Hashim Amla prodded Footitt to third slip after hitting Matt Higginbottom for two crunching square drives in his second over of the day. Rory Burns looked to be getting himself out of a rut before he paid for indecisive footwork to fall lbw to Burgoyne. Zander de Bruyn fell in similar fashion having accompanied Solanki well in a partnership of 96. He could argue that the ball failed to get up, but Wainwright should be credited for a well-disguised arm ball that hurried on.
Steven Davies continued to frustrate. It is becoming impossible to enjoy his strokes without knowing a self-inflicted demise is but a juicy full toss away. Hitting his third ball for four - a crisp flick through midwicket after meeting a ball from Wainwright on the full - he inexplicably lobbed a full toss to Paul Borrington at cover, who somehow failed to hold on. The same combination would do for Davies 88 balls later, as he offered another tame catch which Borrington, now at midwicket, took simply.
Gareth Batty can be excused from any gripes, his 35 taking Surrey's first innings lead past 60. That his wicket proved to be the Jenga slab that brought about the collapse does his efforts a disservice and exonerates those before him from blame.
The tail should also take responsibility for their poor returns this season. In the last week alone, run-heavy late-wicket stands from Derbyshire and Somerset have seen them win games against Middlesex - victories that saw both climb out of the relegation spots.
Given how the pitch is holding up, there is every chance they will be needed for an awkward last innings chase.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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