Surrey secured passage through to the knockout stage of the Royal London One Day Cup with a controlled 36-run victory over Worcestershire Rapids at the Kia Oval.
The south London club recorded their fifth straight victory in the competition, becoming the first side to reach the quarter-finals – the result also ensuring the Rapids cannot progress from Group A.
Surrey looked on course to challenge the largest total of the competition as they eased to 201/3 in the 35th over on a passive pitch, but a procession of run outs and some disciplined bowling prevented them from capitalising fully.
The hosts were still able to set an imposing 329 for victory, Jason Roy top-scoring with 99 as he provided a useful reminder for any doubting ECB selectors of his adaptability in the short-format, ahead of the ODI series with Australia later this summer.
While a muted innings compared to his usual offerings, striking just four deliveries to the boundary on his way to a 49-ball half-century, Roy’s composure demonstrated another element above his perceived power-hitting only batting style. Having lost Steven Davies early – the in-form batsman giving a simple chance to Ed Barnard at mid on off the bowling of Jack Shantry – Roy and Kumar Sangakkara set about their task watchfully.
The Sri Lankan struck the first six of the game 20 overs in – smacking a full Saeed Ajmal delivery over the ropes – on the way to 76 in his final performance for Surrey before international duties begin next week in a Test series against India. It took a wonderful catch by Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell to remove Sangakkara, leaping full stretch at midwicket to pluck the ball one-handed.
At the other end, Roy began to unleash his full repertoire upon reaching 50, passing 2000 List A runs in the process. However as he neared a second 2015 RLODC hundred, signs of uncertainty became to creep in, Joe Leach inducing an edge with Roy one short of three figures that Ben Cox held impressively behind the stumps.
Rory Burns then added the fastest half-century of the match, scoring 61 off 44 deliveries, prior to Cox whipping his bails off from Ajmal’s last ball of the match. Zafar Ansari delivered some late hitting but was unable to add many, Ross Whiteley removing him with a direct hit from deep. His departure was the first of three run outs as Worcestershire stopped Surrey from setting a mammoth chase.
Worcestershire got their reply off to a steady start, Daryl Mitchell showing intent as he clubbed the first ball of the innings for four. But decent bowling by youngster Sam Curran cut the opening partnership at 43 just as they looked to up the scoring, Tom Kohler-Cadmore miscuing to Ansari.
Mitchell made an extraordinary half-century contribution, almost unable to stand towards the end after pulling up clutching his left knee. When he left, gloving Gareth Batty to Gary Wilson, Surrey saw victory in sight. But Tom Fell (63) and Joe Clarke (54) gave the Rapids’ fans hope, putting on 98, before Curran came back on to dismiss Fell. While wickets continued to fall, Worcestershire continued to compete for runs, the game swinging in their favour with the dangerous Whiteley at the crease. But when James Burke saw him off for 31 they result was beyond the visitors.