Hampshire 480 for 8 (Pothas 137*, Mascarenhas 99, Lumb 72) v Surrey
Even if there are any Surrey supporters clinging to the hope of top division cricket next year, the players appear to have resigned themselves to the inevitable after Nic Pothas' second century of the season, and Dimitri Mascarenhas' 99, lifted Hampshire to 480 for 8. Surrey are one of the biggest clubs in the country, with one of largest budgets but if, or rather when, relegation is confirmed, it will be the second time in four years they have gone down. There are plenty of problems at The Oval, and there have been for a long time.
Their plight is summed up by Shoaib Akhtar's contribution to the match so far. Yesterday he sent down eight out of the 39 overs bowled, today it was 11 out of 96 spread over three short spells. A few bouncers and a slower-ball beamer pretty much summed up his day, and he looked far from enthused when recalled to the attack with Hampshire past 450.
Early, on he was occasionally lively and uncomfortable to face, but his most notable contribution was a well-taken catch at long leg to remove Liam Dawson. Another issue that comes when Shoaib bowls is the over-rate and Surrey are behind the clock, leaving them facing a points deduction to compound their problems. He didn't bowl after tea as Pothas brought up his century off 162 balls and Mascarenhas ground the remaining Surrey attack down.
Although Shoaib's high full toss raised a few eyebrows, especially as he tried to suggest it wasn't that bad, it was his former Pakistan team-mate, Saqlain Mushtaq, who generated a controversial moment. Michael Lumb, batting steadily on 72, played forward and edged low to the left of Scott Newman at slip. The fielder claimed the catch immediately, but Lumb wasn't convinced. The umpires, Nigel Llong and Neil Mallender, conferred before giving Lumb out, but he still wasn't keen to go and made his feelings clear on his back to the pavilion.
Lumb and Pothas had added 89 for the fifth-wicket to steady Hampshire's innings after Jade Dernbach made two early breakthroughs in a five-over spell. Chris Benham was bowled not offering a shot and Sean Ervine dragged on as he tried to force one through the off side.
Pothas has had another productive year with the bat, playing a key role in the middle order, averaging 44. He drove impressively when the bowlers over pitched and was equally quick onto anything short and wide, of which there was an increasing amount as the day wore on.
Dawson gave another example of his batting potential, adding 72 for the sixth wicket, before hooking Alex Tudor to Shoaib, but if Surrey had any hopes of rattling through the lower order, they were banished by Mascarenhas' strokeplay. He missed out on a place in the Stanford squad yesterday, having drifted away from England reckoning since Kevin Pietersen took over. But he took out his frustrations on a tiring attack as he cut, drove and pulled some poor bowling until gloving a lap-sweep trying to bring up his hundred. His stand with Pothas was worth 165 in 30 overs, breaking the previous record for Hampshire against Surrey for the seventh wicket which was held by the same pair.
While they were at the crease, there was some value in Hampshire batting on past 450, but it's hard to believe that if Shane Warne had still been captain that he wouldn't have called them in once Mascarenhas departed. Victory for Hampshire is less of a priority than for Surrey, but will put them well clear of the drop zone. That's a position the home side can only dream of.