50's for Steve and Pete not enough to prevent Surrey win

A valiant Somerset rearguard action with the bat was ultimately in vain at the Kia Oval as Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Foakes hurried Surrey to a 143-run win target and victory by six wickets with 8.2 overs to spare. Surrey’s 23 points put them second in the First Division table, with Somerset’s four points leaving them in seventh position.

Sangakkara, having reached 35 off 47 balls, gave a sharp return catch to 20-year-old off spinner Dom Bess, with Surrey needing just another 15 runs, and was shaken by the hand by Marcus Trescothick and then the entire Somerset team as he went off to a standing ovation from every spectator in the ground. Foakes finished on 42 not out from 44 balls, and Ollie Pope ended the match in style by hitting Bess for a six and a four in the space of three balls.

Somerset, starting the last day still 51 runs adrift on 113 for four in their second innings, put up determined resistance with Peter Trego (68 off 83 balls), Steven Davies (52) and Bess, last out for 35 from 63 balls, all batting with great resolve and spirit.

However, Surrey kept chipping away with wickets at vital times and Somerset were bowled out for 306. Surrey captain Gareth Batty took three for 84 with his off spin in Somerset’s second innings, removing Davies and Leach to catches at slip, while Rikki Clarke had Tom Abell caught at second slip for 18 early in the day and later finished things off by having Bess caught down the legside as he tried to fend off a steeply-rising ball. Stuart Meaker, meanwhile, who pinned Overton lbw for 10, finished with three for 65.

Surrey’s final session chase began in a rush of early strokes but then stuttered when both Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman were out in successive overs. Burns was superbly caught at long leg for 13, hooking at Craig Overton, and Stoneman edged behind for 24 off Tim Groenewald.

Sangakkara, however, applauded all the way to the middle as he walked in to play his final innings at the Oval, steadied Surrey’s ship in a stand of 34 with Patel before the latter was bowled for 17 swinging at Bess’s off spin. He and Foakes then added 53 to put the result beyond doubt.

It could have been 73 for four though if Foakes had been caught at slip off Bess from his first ball, but it flew away for a streaky four and after that Foakes and Sangakkara made sure there would be no more slip-ups.

If Somerset beat Middlesex with at least equal bonus points than their visitors in the final game of the season then it will be Middlesex who will drop to Division Two – unless Hampshire, three points behind Middlesex, are beaten by Warwickshire at Edgbaston and fail to get enough bonus points themselves. With Yorkshire, though two points ahead of Middlesex, not quite out of the relegation picture either, despite their thrilling win against Warwickshire at Headingley, it certainly promises to be a tense final week of the season.

Tom Abell, Somerset’s captain, said: “When you are playing against Sangakkara you can see the genius of the man. It looks like he is playing a different game at times. It’s not nice being on the wrong end of things against him, though.

“It was a real battle today and I think we’ve bowled as well as we have all season in this game. Things just didn’t seem to fall our way, but you couldn’t fault the effort of our guys. Next week is a cup final now and if we beat Middlesex we have an excellent chance of staying up.”

Kumar Sangakkara, speaking about the way Somerset’s players – led by Marcus Trescothick – ran to shake his hand when he was dismissed, said: “It was very very special. I am just happy the Somerset players had the respect for me to do that. I’ve always said you should play the game hard but fair and respect the game itself. There’s no hiding place on the field – people’s values come through.

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11/07/2022 11:00 - Southport