Surrey 156 for 7 (Finch 40, Pope 31) beat Middlesex 141 for 7 (Franklin 38, Morgan 32, S Curran 3-28) by 15 runs

Kevin Pietersen played one of the most jaw-dropping turns of his career in front of more than 23,000 at Kia Oval: an innings nine balls long, strewn with misfortune, that seemed to last a lifetime.

Pietersen walked out in the London derby after seven overs, Surrey having lost their first wicket, Jason Roy, with 68 already on the board. He was touch and go for this match, tweeting earlier in the day that he was hopeful that a dicky calf would not hold him back. He was certainly not in the mood to be restrained.

He had even told Andrew Flintoff in an interview on Sky that he was still good enough to make it into England's Test top order batting left-handed with no pads.

The match before, against Essex, he told talkSPORT that he might play for South Africa in the 2019 World Cup. Expect him to take off a mask and reveal himself to be Jeremy Corbyn before his next T20 Blast outing.

Things went awry immediately. He pushed his first ball to midwicket, set off, and stopped entirely. There did not seem to be a call: Finch's reaction suggested if there was, he didn't hear it, racing to the middle of the pitch before he recognised that Pietersen wasn't playing ball. He was run out by a distance. Comedy ensued.

At that point, Pietersen realised that he would need a runner. After discussions with Middlesex captain Brendon McCullum, which from a distance did not seem the most amicable, the game was delayed by 10-minutes as Roy - you'd have been a brave soul to ask Finch as he was walking off - kitted up again and walked out to do Pietersen's bidding.

But just as Roy made it out to the wicket, Middlesex, incensed by the delay, held up time themselves by getting into a huddle to make Surrey wait some more.

Under the playing regulations McCullum could have refused but he agreed to the request, suggesting later: "I just wanted to make sure it didn't bother us and we got on with the game. What you don't want to do is get his back up because he could have played a sublime hand so the smart thing was accept that he needed a runner and to remain on task."

In the eight minutes that Roy and Pietersen (and Kumar Sangakkara, for once entirely overshadowed) were out in the middle, Pietersen wound Middlesex up again when he decided to move from square leg to point while off strike, just as the bowler was about to set off. The cheers when he plinked to wide mid-on for just four came mostly from the 11 Middlesex fielders in pink around him. He did not field in the second innings; he has not fielded in two matches.

So to the routine bits: Surrey moved to top of the South Group with a 15-run win. Defending a target of 157, they were able to rely on Sam Curran (3 for 28) for impact and Stuart Meaker - the most economical bowler with one for 19 from - for calm. Middlesex's threat came exclusively from lefties, as Eoin Morgan, James Franklin and John Simpson set themselves up but were unable to crack on effectively.

What that doesn't reveal is just how bonkers an evening this was, with Pietersen at its core. London has you covered for most things: get your kicks in the East and your calm in the West. But if it's crazy you want, well, the South is where it's at and this fixture had you covered.

Finch was serenaded for the final 10-overs by a 100-strong section at the Vauxhall End. A streaker was given a standing ovation by the Peter May Stand. Across both innings, there were more runners than the Grand National. And then there was Pietersen, matchwinner in his first match, struck by calamity in his second.

It was left to Ollie Pope and Dom Sibley to bring some maturity to proceedings, with 31 and 23 respectively as Surrey finished on 156 for 7. Middlesex, upon losing McCullum in the first over, chose not to be outdone in the bemusement stakes when Paul Stirling walked out at No. 3, only to be sent back to the changing room by the umpire as he had been off the field for the last part of the Surrey innings and would only be allowed to bat after 10 more minutes. When he eventually came out, McCullum acted as his runner on a strip 40-yards away from the main pitch.

Should a target of 157 really have been enough to win on this pitch? No one was really sure and you got the impression that few really cared. They were still caught up in Pietersen's pre-match comments and in-match theatrics. Few will have sympathy for him as he watched on, glum-faced from the Surrey balcony.

Sympathy rarely comes the way of freelance cricketers, particular those of Pietersen's stature. But strip away the rent-a-quote, Connor MacGregor persona that he's trying on this week and it was easy to feel some sympathy.

Spreading yourself over Twenty20 contracts is no easy life. Your training regime, nutrition and general wellbeing are very much in your own hands. That won't sound particularly jarring to most, but for a player in his mid-thirties who has spent most of his career with the very best resources available to keep him a well-oiled, well-drilled machine - one that rasped 13,797 international runs and countless match-winning hands, by the way - niggling injuries such as his calf can prove more testing that they once were.

Beyond the panto of the situation - the cat calls from the crowd and belly laughs at the sheer gall of it all - this was a sad sight, played out on the very ground where, 12 years ago, Pietersen set such high standards for himself.

He is better than what he said and he is better than what he showed and no amount of ego can dilute the remorse he will feel over his choice of words and those fateful nine-balls. But it would be wrong to judge Pietersen, the cricketer, on a night like this.