South Group: Surrey 170-8 (Mahmood 42; Quinn 4-35) beat Essex 162 (Westley 46; Mahmood 4-38, T Curran 3-21) by eight runs
He’s 41, you know. Forty-one years of age. You could say Azhar Mahmood rolled back the years, but, in truth, he’s always had the years in him.
Mahmood, in spite of the glitz and glamour that saw more internationals than England names, ended as one of the two stars of the show, taking four wickets to go with his 42 runs.
It may not have been the most economical spell for a man with more than 700 senior appearances, but his two tail-end scalps alleviated the nerves of a Surrey side who edged out the contest by eight runs.
Those wickets added to two earlier in the piece, removing the ever-dangerous Jesse Ryder before Dan Lawrence fell next ball down the leg side to have the hosts struggling at 26-3 in pursuit of 172.
Ryan ten Doeschate (36) and Ashar Zaidi (30) did more than threaten a resurgence, but the combined Curran figures of 8-0-44-5 were enough for Surrey to claim an opening week victory.
Tom Curran had earlier played his part with the bat, rejuvenating a visiting lower-order that had been stuck at 80-6, with brother Sam among four of the top six to fall for single figures.
But it was Mahmood who was to be the star of the show, striking four boundaries and two sixes in his 22-ball stay, alleviating the damage caused by an impressive Matt Quinn debut.
The 23-year-old, who has plied his trade with Auckland, blitzed through the Surrey order, dismissing all of the top three including Jason Roy and Kumar Sangakkara in the same over to put Essex on the front food.
But it was a situation they couldn’t capitalise on at fortress Chelmsford, suffering an opening day defeat in their bid for a maiden T20 crown.
Man of the Match: Matt Quinn/Azhar Mahmood. A controversial selection, perhaps, considering Mahmood’s all-round prowess in East Anglia, but Quinn ripping through the Surrey top-order was enough to tip the scales back to balance, even if he was on the losing side.