County cricket roared back into action with a low scoring thriller as Surrey women claimed a first London Cup win against arch rivals Middelsex.
Surrey’s victory, the first in the event’s six year history, came courtesy of a quick fire 28* from Kira Chathli.
The Surrey number seven hit back to back ramp shots when Surrey looked out of the game, before smacking the winning runs to cow corner to secure a historic win 311 days since the last ball was bowled at the Kia Oval.
Chathli said: “Those are kind of my shots. I’m pretty confident playing them, and the fielders were up. They didn’t change the field so it was going straight in the same place.
“It’s been a long time to think about setting fields and hypothetical theories, so it was nice for plans to finally come forward and not just be drawn on a whiteboard.”
The county season began with a powerful kneel in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement from all the players and coaches, before Surrey sprung quickly into action with a wicket in the first over.
The return to action did not disappoint. Amy Gordon claimed the first wicket of the domestic summer, as Middlesex captain Naomi Dattani returned to the dug out just four balls after the return of play
Unfortunately Dattani’s hands slipped, sending her bat over her shoulder towards leg gully shortly after she’d nicked behind.
The first wicket of the year at The Kia Oval 🎉 pic.twitter.com/W5n8kNwVxn— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) July 22, 2020
Amara Carr was hot on the heels of the Middlesex skipper as she edged behind off spinner Claudie Cooper leaving Middlesex 5-2. Cooper continued to make batting a tough task for the tourists finishing with 1-14 off her four overs.
While her teammates struggled Middlesex’s Cordelia Griffith looked more comfortable at the crease. The opener steadied Middlesex by punishing the few poor balls on offer. However, just as it looked like Griffith (30 from 23 balls) had pulled the power play back in Middlesex’s favour, a mishit six found the fielder on the long on boundary.
The visitors were 50-3 at the halfway mark before Surrey leg spinner Gregory produced the moment of magic Surrey fans had been waiting for, with a ball Shane Warne would be proud of.
The leg spinner bamboozled Natasha Miles (19 off 34) with the delivery’s flight, before it gripped off the pitch and hit the top of off stump.
The Middlesex innings looked in further trouble, as they were reduced to 60-5 following the dismissals of Gemma Marriot and Olivia Rae.
The task then fell to birthday girl Gayatri Gole to push her team to a competitive score. Gole, who hit four boundaries to take the Middlesex innings to 108-7 at the end of their allotted overs, was kept company by Sonali Patel who made a useful 11.
With a pitch resembling the unplayed green of April, 108 looked a tough score for Surrey to chase especially as both openers nearly fell in the first over. However, once both openers settled in throughout the powerplay it looked like they’d make easy work of the Middlesex total.
This was halted by Katie Wolfe forcing a rare error from 16-year-old Capsey, who chipped the ball up to extra cover leaving Surrey 32-1 at the end of the powerplay. This quickly became 33-2, as a quick single behind on the off side was denied by a direct hit from Kate Coppack.
Although Surrey were 50-2 at the halfway mark (the same number of runs Middlesex had after their first ten overs) Middlesex began to turn the screw, bringing spin into the game. The plan worked and Surrey lost four wickets for 20 runs, leaving them 54-4 in the 12th over.
The run rate crept to above a run a ball for the first time in the 13th over as Thorpe placed more pressure on Surrey, trapping the big hitting Amy Gordon lbw to reduce Surrey to 60-4. A much needed boundary from Chathli came in the 16th over, 36 balls since the ball had last passed the rope.
Chathli looked like she was batting on another wicket throughout the remainder of the run chase. Consecutive reverse ramps transformed Surrey’s dwindling chances putting the game once again in the host’s favour.
Surrey needed just 22 from 20 balls going into the tail end of the innings.
Despite this, Middlesex kept their composure and a series of slower balls and cutters from Middlesex seamers kept the required score above a run a ball all the way to the final over.
The game once again took a twist as Sonali Patel stepped up to bowl the last six balls. First, she bowled Southby and then a huge lbw shout for Chloe Brewer’s wicket made fans wonder if an historic hattrick was on the cards for the Middlesex seamer.
Brewer survived, however, and scrambled a single thereby bringing the dangerous Chathli back on strike. A quick two and a boundary over the leg side made easy work of the remaining chase, and Surrey were victorious with a ball to spare.
Surrey Captain Hannah Jones said: “At 60-5 I thought we’d made it difficult for ourselves, but Riana and Kira showed the simplicity needed and when that unfolded we were cruising.
“It’s nice to be on the winning side for once, but we can’t see a trophy anywhere! It’s a great feeling starting off with a win to Middlesex. Couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.”