Intermittent delays allowed Hampshire’s bowling attack to put on an exhibition on day two at The Oval.
Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbott, and Keith Barker bowled 33 of the 43.3 overs, including a 40-minute spell after the final bad light break where Abbas and Abbott engaged in an eye-catching battle against Ollie Pope.
Surrey end the day on 153 for four, with the cricket played making the consistent delays almost worthwhile.
The day demonstrated the strength in Hampshire’s attack, with each batter looking more and more uneasy with no let-up from the relentless nature of the deliveries.
Each interference in play, whether that be for rain or bad light, gave Hampshire’s bowlers an opportunity to recharge and continue the terrorise Surrey’s bowlers when play did continue.
Believe it or not, the day’s play got underway in glorious sunshine, with Abbas beginning as he meant to go on. Sibley and Burns, who had done well to weather the storm in a tricky 14-over spell the previous evening, looked lost at sea.
Just five runs were added to the overnight total before the rain began to fall, at which point this part of south-west London may as well have been underwater.
Neither Sibley nor Burns looked comfortable at the crease, with Abbas and Barker consistently abusing their line and length on the sort of spell that made the crowd believe a wicket was in the air.
This prophecy was soon fulfilled when play got back underway, with Abbas getting a delivery to hold a line outside off, forcing Sibley into an edge, with Liam Dawson the grateful recipient of catching practice at second slip.
Pope came to the crease in the unfamiliar position of Surrey’s no. 3, having batted there just once previously for his county despite fulfilling this role on the international stage in recent times.
A sign of the bowling skill on offer was just how out of shape Burns was throughout his inning, the former England opener struggling for clean connections, with many of his runs coming via his edge.
The first boundary of the day came from the 49th delivery, with Burns edging Abbas through the slip cordon, showing just how dominant the Hampshire bowlers were.
The Surrey captain was able to survive with Pope at the other end, combining for a partnership of 37. However, Burns was unable to delay the inevitable any longer when Abbas deservedly pinned him lbw, ending a battling innings of 45, none of which looked convincing.
Ryan Patel joined Pope at the crease, with the latter earning every single run as he continued to do battle with the non-stop barrage of exemplary bowling from Abbas and co.
Abbott was seemingly doing everything right with no reward, having three strong appeals for leg before dismissed by the umpire in one over. This disappointment seemed only to inspire the South African, who did not bowl a bad ball all day.
A sprinkling of BazBall was added, with Pope looking to charge down the ground to Abbott on occasion, but be careful, too much may overpower the other ingredients in an otherwise watchful innings.
Patel looked more at home than his opening counterparts, playing sensibly for most of his innings, allowing himself the odd shot in anger from time to time. This would prove his downfall, an attempted drive finding his edge, and forcing James Vince into a smart catch at first slip.
Jordan Clark found himself heading back up the pavilion steps soon after making his way down, with another delay for bad light coming at the worst possible time for the all-rounder.
When play did resume, Clark faced a well-rested Abbas and Abbott and did not last long, making three before the latter finally got his reward in the form of an lbw.
Promising wicketkeeper Jamie Smith came to the crease and had the best view in the ground to the best period of play of the day. Pope, often accused of enhancing his statistics on a flat Oval track, delivered a stellar batting performance to stave away constant danger from Abbas and Abbott.
England’s no. 3 earned each of his 48 runs, and will feel aggrieved that a final delay for bad light ended the day’s play, preventing the milestone of a half-century he certainly is entitled to.
The battle will resume tomorrow and will be worthy of anyone’s time if it is anything like today’s play.