Surrey sealed their spot for Finals Day after beating a listless Kent outfit by 56 runs on their home turf at The Oval, in the second quarter final of the Vitality Blast.
Hashim Amla and Jason Roy laid a solid foundation for the home side after being put into bat on a warm, used pitch with a 114-run opening stand. The slowish nature of the pitch was quickly apparent as boundaries were hard to come by. The first six of the game coming in the final over of Surrey’s innings was a further evidence of that.
However, quick hustles between the wickets remained the central theme for Surrey’s batting as they paced their innings well having reached 81 unscathed at halfway mark. Roy and Amla brought up controlled, measured half-centuries with the latter playing a few increasingly clever shots to not give Kent any sniff of a breakthrough until the 13th over.
Roy, having escaped a close runout call, much to the chagrin of Kent skipper and England teammate Sam Billings, skied left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum to mid-on for a decent 56. Laurie Evans, Surrey’s leading run-scorer in the Blast, fell after a lean, boundary-less passage of play holing out to mid-on off Qayyum soon after.
Will Jacks (21*) combined with Amla in the 15th over to provide the death over fireworks scoring 40 off the last four overs to help Surrey put up a formidable score of 169 on-board. At this point, the game was well-poised only for it to turn into a game of dichotomous two halves.
Kent, who were playing a batsman less, having swapped Heino Kuhn for Tim Groenewald, failed to gather any momentum in their reply, losing Daniel Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley in the second over off Will Jacks. The powerplay did witness a brace of sixes but things were slow-moving as Joe Denly and Billings looked to rebuild.
However, Jacks returned to dismiss Denly and Billings as he cut off Kent’s strongest suit -a formidable top order- in the chase as the visitors found themselves reeling at 54 for 4 at the halfway mark. Jack Leaning top-scored with 34 but failed to provide the miraculous burst his side desperately needed.
A calm bricolage of a Surrey win was brought about by a disciplined bowling effort of the spin duo Batty and Moriarty, ably supported by seamers Topley and Plunkett. Kent eventually finished on 113 for 7 and one wonders whether Surrey’s travel plans to Edgbaston were firmly inked by the time the final delivery was bowled.
One did not have to chance a glance at the scoreboard to dub it a complete performance, but all that was missing was a familiar cheery outburst from Surrey members – one remembers the redoubtable Debbie Knight. The mechanical construction noise from the ongoing pavilion repairs was barely tantamount.
In another trouser leg of time, the fixture would have attracted upwards of some 15,000 fans on this Friday evening – but they would happily trade that for some silverware this weekend.