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August 5, 2014
Kent 314 for 8 (Billings 87, Cowdrey 75, Northeast 63, Tremlett 4-38) tied with Surrey 314 for 9 (Solanki 83, Davies 58)
Zafar Ansari hit Mitch Claydon for two legside sixes in an astonishing final over in which Surrey failed to score from the last two balls to tie with Kent in a thrilling match at The Oval.
Both counties ended up taking a point away each after Kent's 314 for 8 was equalled by Surrey's 314 for 9, but the hosts will be kicking themselves after coming so close.
Left-hander Ansari, who came in at No. 9 despite being Surrey's Championship opener, lifted Claydon's first ball of the final over to midwicket for six as Surrey chased 16 to win and then hit a two wide of deep square cover before straight-driving another maximum.
With two runs needed from three balls, it seemed as if Surrey must win but, after Ansari took a dabbed single from the fourth ball, Gareth Batty swung and missed at the fifth ball and then drove the last ball straight to mid-off where James Tredwell stopped it to run Batty out.
Ansari's brave effort left him 27 not out from 16 balls, but perhaps he should have swung at the fourth ball.
As it was, the tie was in many ways a fitting result in a game full of fine strokeplay and also some excellent bowling from Kent spinners Tredwell and Fabian Cowdrey, while Chris Tremlett also shone taking 4 for 38 from his 10 overs.
Earlier in the floodlit contest, Sam Billings' 87 from 42 balls, with six sixes and six fours, inspired Kent to their challenging total. Billings' extraordinary shot-making included going down on one knee several times to sweep and flip fast bowlers Stuart Meaker and Tremlett high over a shortish legside boundary.
Before he got to the crease Sam Northeast and Cowdrey combined for a vital third-wicket partnership of 92 in 19 overs after Daniel Bell-Drummond fell in the seventh over and Brendan Nash followed shortly after.
Northeast's day finished when he skied Tremlett to mid-on after hitting five fours in 63 from 87 balls and with Darren Stevens and then Cowdrey falling Kent were in danger of falling short of par on 219 for 5.
Enter Billings. The 23-year-old had started fluently, twice reverse-sweeping Dilshan's off breaks for four and then slog-sweeping Mahmood for six, but his thrilling acceleration saw him dominate a sixth-wicket stand of 66 in 6.3 overs with Calum Haggett.
His half-century arrived off just 29 balls, paddling Meaker high over short fine leg for four, before Billings then unfurled some even more astonishing shots - a straight driven six off Batty and then a flicked maximum, down on one knee, from Meaker.
Billings added two more sixes to his collection, a straight hit off Mahmood and a slog-sweep off Tremlett, before he was caught at long leg after not getting enough bat on another hook at Tremlett.
Haggett departed in the same over, the 47th, but Tredwell batted brightly for 20 not out from 13 balls, and some more useful tail-end runs were added before Claydon was bowled for seven swinging at the last ball of the innings, from Mahmood.
Surrey's reply began poorly as Tillakaratne Dilshan flashed at the first ball he faced to get caught behind off Doug Bollinger, before Vikram Solanki, Steven Davies and Rory Burns stepped up with a blaze of strokeplay.
Solanki, with two sixes and nine fours in an 88-ball 83, added 89 in just over 13 overs with Davies, whose 58 from 52 balls featured 10 fours.
The hosts' troubles started when Burns was run out in the first batting Powerplay over. Gary Wilson was then caught at deep square-leg off a top-edged pull at Claydon and Tremlett, sent in to swing from the hip, was bowled for 12 after hitting one six and a four.
Surrey, needing 49 from the last four overs,were revived by Mahmood, who took 19 from Doug Bollinger's 47th over, including a huge six over midwicket, and Mahmood also drove Tredwell for six before needlessly attempting a reverse-slap to get bowled by the off spinner's final ball.
Bollinger then sent down a fine 49th over, which cost only five runs, before Ansari provided the sting in the tail.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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