Burke, Curran rip Leicestershire apart
Surrey 261 and 217 for 6 (Foakes 46) lead Leicestershire 190 (Robson 68, Burke 4-19, Curran 4-39) by 288 runs
Sixteen wickets fell during a compelling day's cricket that ended with Surrey as strong favourites to complete victory over Leicestershire at Grace Road.
Having taken all ten Leicestershire first innings wickets for the addition of just 90 runs after Angus Robson and Matt Boyce had compiled a century opening stand for the Foxes, the Surrey batsmen built steadily on the first innings lead of 71. They closed the second day leading by 288 runs with four second innings wickets remaining, a position of some strength on a wicket which has offered the seamers assistance from the start.
"It looks as though we're going to have a long time to bat and we'll need a couple of the top five to get in and score a hundred, but we're definitely capable of doing that," Robson said.
"It will be a crucial first hour tomorrow. If we can finish their innings quickly and get batting we're well in the game. We have batters who have scored big runs this season, we have depth in our line-up and if we get a good start we're in with a big chance. Fingers crossed the pitch gets a bit better as the game goes on. It's not a bad pitch, there's life in it, but you can score runs too."
Tom Curran and James Burke picked up four wickets apiece as Leicestershire struggled to take advantage of the start given them by Robson and Boyce, who scored at better than four runs an over in taking their partnership to exactly 100. But Burke, making his Championship debut, struck with his first ball, a loopy leg side bouncer that Boyce, trying to help down to the fine leg boundary, succeeded only in gloving to Surrey wicketkeeper Gary Wilson.
Burke then brought one back off the seam to bowl Robson for 68, and shortly afterwards Mark Cosgrove, having clipped Matt Dunn to the midwicket boundary to get off the mark, tried to repeat the shot and was given leg before to a well-pitched up leg stump delivery.
Shortly before lunch Chris Tremlett picked up the wicket of Andrea Agathangelou with a delivery that rose to take the shoulder of the bat and flew straight to third slip, where Steve Davies could not hold the chance, but the ball popped up nicely for second slip Rory Burns to complete the catch.
The Surrey attack kept up the pressure in the afternoon session. Curran, who had gone wicket-less in the morning, struck quickly, Niall O'Brien pushing at a delivery that left him outside off stump and edging to Dominic Sibley at third slip. Ben Raine went in Curran's following over, edging to Wilson, and one ball later Rob Taylor was dismissed in a similar fashion, Wilson taking a sharp, low catch to his right.
Burke got in on the act by bowling Ned Eckersley for 34 with a delivery that seamed back to beat the right-hander's tentative defensive push, and then pinned Jigar Naik leg before with a straight delivery which kept a little low. Curran then dismissed Charlie Shreck first ball, again leg before, to end the innings.
With the ball swinging, wickets continued to fall when Surrey began their second innings. Rory Burns edged Clint McKay to Agathangelou at second slip, a good catch taken two-handed diving to the right. The left-handed Zafar Ansari went leg before to a Shreck inswinger for the second time in the match, and then Kumar Sangakkara, unsettled after being engaged in a verbal sparring match by Shreck, sparred and edged a catch behind off the left-armer Rob Taylor.
Shreck also got Dominic Sibley, but Gary Wilson, with 42, and Ben Foakes, 46, compiled a vital partnership of 73 in just 16.4 overs. Although both were dismissed before reaching their half-century, Davies and Burke saw the visitors to the close with power to add.