Surrey v Nottinghamshire, The Oval, 2nd day September 18, 2008

Wagh and Patel feast on doomed Surrey

Nottinghamshire 420 for 5 (Patel 141, Wagh 135) lead Surrey 267 (Hodgson 63, Newman 61, Adams 4-40) by 153 runs
Championship gallery

Shoaib Akhtar staggers away after being struck in the neck by Andre Adams ... and hits his own stumps in the process © Getty Images
Excellent hundreds from Mark Wagh and Samit Patel ensured Nottinghamshire's Championship chase remained on track on the second day against the already-relegated Surrey at The Oval as they closed on 420 for 5, a lead of 153, with plenty of gas still in the tank.

The day was dominated by a third-wicket stand of 242 in 227 balls between Wagh and Patel during which Surrey's bowling was absolutely savaged. The batsmen matched each other shot for shot, although Patel dominated the six-hitting with six to his partner's one. Wagh's, however, made the most impact, startling a fox who had snoozed away the afternoon at the Vauxhall End.

Patel favoured the slog-sweep, depositing three of them over the short Harleyford Road boundary, while Wagh always kept just in the lead with some excellent driving and cutting, at one point thumping Stuart Meaker for four successive fours. The afternoon session produced 187 runs; yesterday, Surrey managed 59 runs in the same period.

Wagh's hundred came with a sumptuous on-drive, Patel's with a rasping spank through the covers off Shoaib Akhtar, the ball after an equally confident hook. Both then abandoned what little caution they had shown and eventually Patel holed out to a good catch in the deep for 141 and Wagh followed in the next over to a tired prod. Even then there was no respite as Ashwell Prince and Graeme Swann scored with ease. Surrey's malaise was summed up when nightwatchman Darren Pattinson deposited the last ball of the day high over the midwicket boundary.

Surrey were unfortunate to lose wicketkeeper Jonathan Batty in the second over, fracturing a finger and dislocating another as he failed to take a low, fast delivery cleanly, but even so they looked sloppy. Meaker bowled a lively opening spell before losing his bearings, the spinners got the occasional ball past the bat, but otherwise it was a virtual free-for-all.

Their only two successes came either side of lunch. Scott Newman, Batty's temporary replacement, was almost immediately in the spotlight when Will Jefferson nicked Meaker to him; he could only limply parry the ball but it looped gently to Usman Afzaal at second slip. Soon after the restart Bilal Shafayat top-edged a cut off Afzaal to Dan Euston, Surrey's third and final keeper of the day. Then the fireworks started.

Shoaib Akhtar again turned in a performance that left Surrey members wondering quite what the logic behind his signing had been. Rumours abounded that the gamble cost the county a five-figure sum; the cost per wicket would make even the richest IPL franchise baulk.

Samit Patel hammers another boundary during his century © Getty Images
He started the day hitting his own wicket after being struck on the chin by Andre Adams and then collapsing in a heap. What followed was slightly surreal. With Shoaib still prone at the side of the cut strip and being treated by the medics, the Nottinghamshire players trooped off and the groundsmen started their between-innings work on the pitch. There was briefly a danger he might be buried by the heavy roller. By the time he eventually left the middle his team-mates were already back out warming up.

He rejoined his colleagues after half an hour, sent down four increasingly wayward overs and then decided not to reappear for almost 90 minutes after lunch. When he finally deigned to return, he was immediately deposited on his backside as one of Patel's sixes crept tantilisingly over his outstretched hands on the deep midwicket boundary. It was all very undignified but it amused the smattering of spectators in front of Archbishop Tenison's School. His second and third wicketless bursts did little to dispel the unrest.

Surrey, who were finally put out of their misery mid-morning when their own relegation from the top flight was confirmed by events at Liverpool, have shown nothing so far to indicate they will offer anything more than token resistance when they bat again. A win here for Nottinghamshire should set up an appetising final match against Hampshire at Trent Bridge next week. By then, heads could already have started to roll at The Oval.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo