Surrey v Somerset, NatWest T20, The Oval July 16, 2014

Pietersen cameo keeps up Surrey hopes

Ryan Bailey at The Oval

Surrey 137 for 7 (Pietersen 39, Waller 2-24) beat Somerset 136 for 9 (Trego 30, Dunn 3-8) by three wickets

The scrimmage for the quarter-final berths in the ultra-competitive South Group is becoming increasingly fraught. Having coasted into a position of influence, Surrey's hopes of advancing had suffered a setback of late but Kevin Pietersen played his most significant hand to date with an assured cameo to ensure his side were on the right side of the fine margins this time around. They are now within touching distance of the knock-out stages.

If things had been different, Pietersen would have been across the other side of the capital resting up on the eve of a Test match. As it was, he - for the first time this season - showed why many regard the ECB's decision to discard him as risible. Two trademark cover drives had the crowd purring and Surrey motoring in pursuit of Somerset's 136 for 9.

But his dismissal, succumbing to spin on a surface conducive to slow, take-all-the-pace-off bowling for 39, opened a window of opportunity for the visitors. But, unlike Surrey's astute operators, Somerset weren't able to apply the stranglehold to induce a middle-order wobble.

Pietersen powerfully cut Max Waller to the boundary first ball of the tenth over but fell next delivery, attempting to replicate the stroke. When Robin Peterson haphazardly ran himself out in comical circumstances after a mix-up with Azhar Mahmood, a tense silence engulfed a sold-out Oval as another edgy finale loomed.

But, with the equation set at ten required off two overs, Somerset were up against it and a couple of lusty blows from Chris Tremlett was enough. Had Marcus Trescothick - playing as a makeshift wicketkeeper in the absence of Craig Kieswetter - been able to throw down middle stump or Colin Ingram manage to scamper around from long-on to snaffle Mahmood in the final overs, things may have finished differently - but such are the fine margins in the shortest format.

A two-wicket victory with a couple of deliveries to spare all but ends Somerset's hopes of finishing in the top four but ensures there is a realistic chance of another sell-out crowd at The Oval this season. True, there was no Jason Roy fireworks - he fell for just 4 in the first over - and a two-paced surface didn't allow flamboyant strokeplay but that suited the hosts.

Gary Wilson hardly had to affirm the inevitable when the coin landed in his favour but that alone doesn't guarantee his bowlers will execute the gameplan. Successive defeats hinted that their dependable strategy was unravelling.

Glamorgan's thrilling victory here five days ago apart, the team chasing at The Oval in the last ten domestic Twenty20 games had come away with the points and the hosts ensured Friday's blip in the trend was just that. True, they were aided by a surface fabricated to suit their strengths but isn't that what home advantage is about?

While it would be easy for Wilson to turn to his slower bowlers to roll their fingers over the ball on a two-paced surface for all 20 overs, he placed just as much faith in his battery of seamers. Matthew Dunn is another promising cab off the Surrey ranks and highlights that there is more to the club that meets the eye of many. An inspired spell of 3 for 8 proved decisive and enough for him to earn the plaudits.

Having being crashed to the fence first ball by Nick Compton, he stuck to his guns, bowling fast and full and was duly rewarded. Just as the visitors were beginning to motor, Compton played an atypically ugly heave to be caught at point. It was a needless shot as Somerset raced along at close to ten an over during the Powerplay.

To that point, he had crunched and punched four boundaries in quick succession as he took Tillakartne Dilshan for 13 in the first over; that was the last we saw of the Sri Lankan with the ball. But, Somerset were unable to attune themselves to the pitch and Surrey's astute methods. Their innings became stagnant fairly quickly after a brisk start.

By the time Dunn returned to bowl the penultimate over, the wheels had come off the innings. He The quashed any hopes of a late burst as James Hildreth was caught by Zafar Ansari and next delivery, he exhibited his unerringly accurate yorker - it was far too good for Tim Groenewald. Alas, the hat trick ball was safely negotiated by Waller. but Dunn had already inflicted the damage.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on July 18, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    @CodandChips on (July 18, 2014, 11:55 GMT) I think you maybe misunderstand me.

    My main reason for each county playing a dual day (2 T20 Home games in one day) is so that I think it solves the problem of 2 leftover games and we get a full/balanced/complete table. It'd also give each home county's set of fans a day to really look forward to. Obviously doing it too often would be overkill.

    PS - I don't think I could write to the ECB without going off on a rant

  • Paulo on July 18, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    @JG2704 I'm slowly warming to that idea of each time having one day a year with 2 T20 games. Maybe you should write to the ECB.

    Re finals day, most fans stay to watch the final. I have when I've seen Hants go out. I've enjoyed watching the cricket.

    However finals day was also brilliant as a neutral when we had it at the Ageas Bowl and Middlesex won. Having 2 games in one day might no attract the neutrals like a finals day does. Middlesex struggled for spectators when they had 2 in one day. At Hants we get bigger crowds than that in our T20s and we only have one match at a time.

  • John on July 18, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    @CodandChips - No , I've never been to a finals day but can imagine that the atmosphere etc is amazing. My suggestion is that if each team had 1 home 2 game day on top of the games played you'd get those 2 extra fixtures in for 1. Also it would be a special day for each team's set of fans so it would only be 1 day per side so it would be kind of special. Also on finals day , I can imagine - with some fans - when their team goes out the final could be a bitter pill. Here you would not have that scenario. So no I don't think it would detract if they just did one such dual day per team per season although can see it might if it became regular Re uneven teams - I was more referring to the CC where a team may be without a fixture for a week when there is no 4 day game. I also think the 50 over comp should be regionalised whether is be in 3 divisions or 2. PS re 11 days in a row - it's more crazy when you see that we have a full week without a game after today.

  • Paulo on July 17, 2014, 17:09 GMT

    Also when does KP do the CPL?

  • Paulo on July 17, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    @JG2704 Re even number of teams in groups, perhaps again they could go back to 3 groups. The mid/west/Wales group looks a lot stronger now Glamorgan have become an excellent side, Somerset have been weakened slightly but are still decent, Warwickshire are decent, and Northants won last year and Worcestershire are improved. It's no longer the group of whipping boys it used to be. Therefore it's an option.

    Alternatively add in Ireland/Scotland/Holland/Unicorns/2 minor counties to make 20 and then have 4 groups of 5 or 2 of 10.

    In the championship I think more teams could be added and 3?divisions created. Perhaps give Ireland 2 teams and Scotland 2?

  • Paulo on July 17, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    @JG2704 That scheduling is ridiculous. If I was a Somerset fan I'd be proper grumpy.

    Personally I think Friday nights are the best. Club cricketers like me can still play at the weekend but watch on a Friday. Students and working people can go knowing they won't have to worry about the next day. For me Fridays are a dream. It's been terrific.

    Re 2 games in one day, have you ever been to finals day? It's a long day but t truly awesome. I've seen 2 finals days at Ageas Bowl and a couple at other grounds when Hants got there, and all have been brilliant. Even the year I was a neutral home fan. Seeing 3 games in one day with a fantastic atmosphere is terrific. Especially the year at Edgbaston with 2 games tied on Duckworth-Lewis. But does 2 games in one day detract from the special feel of finals day? Also 2 T20s can elongate the day pointlessly if both are just group stage games.

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    Who was the fastest scorer last night? The man dropped by England for batting too slowly - Nick Compton.

  • Paulo on July 17, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    @JG2704 I think most people were screaming at the TV when Overton bowled instead of Nannes.

  • John on July 17, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    @CodandChips - The scheduling is a joke. I've said this re the CC fixtures. We've agreed before that you need an even number of sides in each group. In football there is an even number of sides in every division and there's a reason for it which cricket seems to have overlooked. If you look at Somerset's fixtures - we've just played 11 days of solid cricket with no break and now we get a day off , then we play Kent tomorrow and then we have a week without a game. Surely that is poor scheduling? I'm guessing other teams have had similar poor scheduling. Re T20 - I've only just noticed that each team has a couple of logical fixtures missing. Just wondering if you could have weekends for T20 next year and have a number of days where the home side plays 2 x T20s on the same day? I think Middx or Essex did it earlier in the year.I reckon if each team played 1 or 2 T20 days at home you'd get those remaining fixtures in. Also great for the fans to see 2 games on the same day

  • John on July 17, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Finally re WASP - I guess they don't take into consideration a side's batting line up etc. I couldn't believe it was predicting 180 when Trego was at the crease. With Somerset - without Buttler - the runs have pretty much always dried up in the 2nd half of the inns. Buttler is irreplaceable but we need someone at 6 or 7 who can regularly score runs at a good rate.

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