Surrey come of age to take command of Group A

Surrey come of age to take command of Group A

Result: Surrey 265/8 (Ansari 66*) beat Yorkshire 259/7 (Ballance 77, Maxwell 55) by six runs, at the Oval

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A break away from England duty appears to have served Gary Ballance well

Surrey produced a performance of astounding maturity against Yorkshire at the Kia Oval to secure back-to-back Royal London One-Day Cup victories. Even Gary Ballance’s top-score of 77 off 97 balls – his second consecutive half-century since being dropped by England – wasn’t enough, as the hosts held their nerve to win by six runs in a tightly-contested game.

Needing 22 off 16 balls when Ballance departed to Zafar Ansari, Yorkshire slumped to the final over requiring 14 to take the points. But a disciplined bowling display by Tom Curran curtailed any hope of the visitors completing the chase.

Besides the obvious desire to progress in the one-day competition after crashing out of the T20 Blast at the group stage, this fixture provided Surrey an early glimpse of the challenges they will face next year in the County Championship top tier, if they manage to hold on to their current promotion position.

Up against a team lauded for their skill, and containing four experienced international players, Surrey delivered under immense pressure. Where they struggled last year, failing to see off chasing sides and winning just a single 50-over match, now they look confident in their ability to restrict the opposition. Whether they can shift that approach to four-day cricket will determine the length of their stay in Division One.

Having secured an emphatic 220-run victory over Northants Steelbacks two days previous, there was no surprise to see Surrey bat first after winning the toss. Steven Davies got them off to a quick start, mixing sumptuous cover drives, deft flicks that were timed so sweetly they raced away, and ferocious cuts that flew past fielders.

Yet as soon as they had reached 50 – brought up in the seventh over – Steve Patterson deceived Davies with a beautiful swinging delivery that splayed his stumps. What was previously a flood of runs soon dried up, and Yorkshire began to demonstrate their bowling prowess: from seven fours prior to Davies’ departure the batsmen took another 14.3 overs before finding the boundary again.

In that time three wickets fell. Jason Roy departed first; attempting to force the situation back in Surrey’s favour he danced down the track only to chip Patterson to Liam Plunkett at midwicket. Gary Wilson then buckled from the burden, too, trying to launch 19-year-old spinner Kyle Carver out of the ground but instead sending the ball swirling up to be well-held by Matt Fisher. Carver, on List A debut, followed up his first scalp with the wicket of Kumar Sangakkarra, before Glenn Maxwell foiled Ben Foakes and Gareth Batty between Fisher accounting for James Burke.

Staggering on 187-7, Tom Curran provided some end-of-innings fireworks, including the first six of the match, a mighty blow into the Bedser Stand. It was a much-needed show of aggression and gumption that saw Maxwell hit for 22 in an over. Curran’s gung-ho approach encouraged Ansari to do the same and send the last ball for six. The next delivery he faced brought up his half-century, a vigilant effort coming off 71-balls.

Fisher eventually got the better of Curran in the end, but not before he and Ansari had put on a Surrey record 66-run eighth wicket partnership against Yorkshire, to set them a total of 266 to win.

Their innings got off to a frantic start in reply, Andrew Gale dismissed to the increasingly impressive Sam Curran in the second over. Glenn Maxwell showed signs of his pugnacious best, although not without help. Scything Jade Dernbach for six, he was given a reprieve the very next delivery when on 21, clipping a ball off his legs to Sam Curran who couldn’t hold on.

Alex Lees departed with the score on 72, slapping Ansari straight to Jason Roy at midwicket, before Gary Wilson let Ballance off, dropping him on three. From there it seemed as if he would make them pay for such a mistake, accumulating runs astutely while others fell around him.

Maxwell (55), Jack Leaning (29) and Andrew Hodd (25) all contributed but fell cheaply. By the time of Ballance’s demise Surrey were in their groove, and none of the tail-end were capable of amassing the last few runs.

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