Hampshire top after crushing win
Hampshire 480 for 8 dec (Pothas 137*, Mascarenhas 99) beat Surrey 210 (Ramprakash 61, Newman 58) and 148 (Newman 51, Mascarenhas 4-13) by an innings and 122 runs
Hampshire are still only an outside chance for the title having just one game left while their nearest rivals have two. However, they are now clear of any relegation concerns, which shows how tight the first division has become this season. "We're obviously a chance," Dimitri Mascarenhas, Hampshire's captain, said. "I don't know the exact maths, but the lads were saying if we have a good win we could win the Championship. That would be amazing if we could pull something like that off."
Only while Afzaal and Saqlain Mushtaq were adding 53 in 23 overs did this victory look anything other than a dead-cert, after Mascarenhas and Chris Tremlett, two discarded England men with points to prove, reduced them from 61 for 1 to 75 for 6. Mascarenhas completed a superb all-round match, following his 99 with four wickets and he finished with figures of 12-8-13-4. England's selectors chose to ignore him for their winter squads and there isn't much more he can now do except perform for his county. And think of a longer spell in the IPL next spring.
"It wasn't extra motivation, it's what I have to do, get runs and wickets," Mascarenhas said. "Whatever game I'm playing that's what I try to do. It was disappointing not to get selected, but it's one of those things. A lot of people probably think that they deserved a place too."
Surrey could barely score a run off him and he conceded just one off his first seven overs. By that time he already had three wickets as the home side disintegrated for a second time. Mascarenhas began the slide when Matthew Spreigel completed a poor match, trapped lbw playing round a straight ball having been dropped in the gully on 0. After a short break to try out Imran Tahir's legspin, Mascarenhas returned to rip through the middle.
James Benning, surprisingly promoted to No. 3 ahead of Mark Ramprakash, was trapped on the crease, then Newman, who had again dominated the scoring with another boundary-filled half-century, pushed out and edged low to second slip. Newman stood after Sean Ervine took the catch, but the umpires barely had to converge before he was given out.
Surrey's fate was virtually sealed when Ramprakash was brilliantly held at short leg after turning the ball off the middle of the bat. Everything was going Hampshire's way, but they deserved it for playing impressively throughout the match. Apart from being 125 for 4 on the second morning they have never been remotely on the back foot.
Mascarenhas's monopoly on wickets was broken by another England player pushed out of the reckoning as Tremlett found bounce from the Pavilion End. Jon Batty played away from his body, edging to third slip, and Alex Tudor went in similar fashion, undone by some extra lift, as he fended to second.
The fight had gone from Surrey, but Afzaal didn't buckle like his team-mates and Saqlain showed up some of the frontline batsmen. They proved that there were few demons in the pitch, both just played straight and sensibly - something beyond many others. Mascarenhas went through a few of his options and it was a change of ends for James Tomlinson, switching to the Vauxhall End, that did the trick as he squeezed one through Saqlain's defences.
Jade Dernbach didn't look as though he had the desire to hang around, flashing outside off stump before edging to Pothas. Tomlinson, disappointing earlier in the innings, wrapped up the match by coming round the wicket. Shoaib Akhtar edged to first slip before Pedro Collins lost his off stump.
Surrey now need a miracle to avoid the drop, they are 15 points behind Yorkshire in eighth and have just one game remaining. "I would say we are pretty resigned to it," coach Alan Butcher said.
At least by passing 200 in their first innings, thanks to some slogging from Shoaib, and the leniency of the umpires in ruling they were just one over behind the rate they at least finished with positive points. However, a four-day washout at Blackpool two weeks ago earned them point more than four days' work here. They might as well not have turned up.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo