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September 11, 2008
Surrey 171 for 7 (Newman 58, Ramprakash 55*) trail Hampshire 480 for 8 dec (Pothas 137*, Mascarenhas 99) by 309 runs
Surrey are in danger of the rare achievement of finishing a Championship match with no points after they collapsed in the face of Hampshire's sizeable total. Even though they collected two bowling points, their slow over-rate could see them deducted and unless the first innings passes 200 there won't be any batting rewards. The only points then on offer would be for the draw, and that is looking a long way off.
The damage was done by a mixture of probing swing and spin bowling, poor shot selection and a crazy piece of running between the wickets. James Tomlinson continued a productive season with two wickets, Imran Tahir took his impressive tally to 35 in three games with three more scalps, and Mark Ramprakash - unbeaten on 55 - was left feeling he'd seen it all before. That's because he has.
Despite Ramprakash passing fifty for the fifth time in six innings (he has converted the others into hundreds) Surrey are still 160 short of saving the following on. Tahir, who has played a key role in rejuvenating Hampshire's season, is finding some assistance from the pitch as well as the batsmen and Surrey's escape route could rest with the weather. But even if it allows them to save the match, their season is beyond redemption.
Hampshire declared on their overnight 480 for 8 after rain delayed the start until 2.15pm and there was early movement with the new ball. Chris Tremlett dropped a touch short, but Dimitri Mascarenhas found a testing line and removed Matthew Spriegel as he pushed forward and got a low edge to Nic Pothas.
Scott Newman dominated the early scoring, picking off regular boundaries - some convincing, others not - as he rattled to a 59-ball half-century, while Ramprakash settled in for what Surrey needed to be another long haul. The pick of Newman's 12 fours was a dismissive back-foot drive off Tomlinson, but two balls later he showed exactly why Surrey are in such a dire position by slapping a similar shot to cover point.
Surrey didn't need to offer Hampshire any more of a helping hand, but from his second ball Jon Batty had a mental block, pushing into the covers and racing off for a non-existent single to Michael Carberry, one of the best fielders in the country. A direct hit from Carberry, from about 20 yards, made it a no-contest and Surrey were slipping fast at 78 for 3.
Ramprakash fought hard and had to be watchful against the left-arm swing of Tomlinson. He and Afzaal brought some calm to the innings with a stand of 45, but Tomlinson made the breakthrough when Afzaal played across the line. Alex Tudor came in at No. 6, ahead of James Benning who was off the field injured yesterday, but couldn't open his account before lunging forward to Tahir and being given lbw.
Benning made his slightly belated appearance, but a skittish 18 off 20 balls did nothing to help Surrey's cause. A wild drive at Tahir won't have endeared him to Ramprakash, either, who was losing partners rapidly. A long tail was well exposed as Tahir bounded in from the Vauxhall End with the skip and loop that accompanies so many Asian spinners. He was bowling with such control, and Hampshire were so dominant, that at times he had six men around the bat.
One of those fielders, Sean Ervine at leg slip, held the catch to remove Saqlain Mushtaq from an attempted lap-sweep. Ramprakash survived until the close, but he struck a rather forlorn and detached figure at the crease. It's hard not to feel a little sorry for him.
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