Middlesex lost an extra-ordinary LV= County Championship match by eight runs against Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Middlesex, who began the final day on 45-1, chasing a total of 254 runs to win, slipped to 101-7 before Steven Crook and Adam Rossington put on 96 runs before both were dismissed in the space of three balls. However, the last wicket pair of Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh applied themselves well against the spin of Murali Kartik and Gareth Batty and the pair added 48 for the last wicket before Gareth Batty trapped Roland-Jones LBW to win the match for Surrey.
In the morning, Middlesex lost Sam Robson to the sixth ball of the day when Jason Roy caught him at slip off Murali Kartik’s bowling without adding to his overnight score of 22. Night-watchman Tom Smith also went without a run being added to the Middlesex overnight score when he was caught by Kartik at leg-slip off Gareth Batty’s bowling.
Dawid Malan joined Joe Denly at the wicket and the pair had to battle hard against the two Surrey spinners who were getting appreciable turn from the wicket. The pair added 43 in seventeen overs before Joe Denly was LBW to Batty for twelve. When Neil Dexter (2) was caught by Kartik at leg-slip in Batty’s next over, Middlesex were reduced to 92-5.
Andrew Balbirnie scored three singles off 20 balls before he was LBW attempting a sweep-shot against Murali Kartik. Adam Rossington joined Dawid Malan with the score on 100-6 but Malan fell in the following over when Jason Roy took a brilliant diving one-handed catch at slip off Gareth Batty’s bowling to dismiss Malan for 33.
Steven Crook came to the wicket with 35 minutes remaining before lunch, and after avoiding a ‘king-pair’, he decided that attack was the best form of defence by hitting two fours in Batty’s 18th over. Rossington, in only his second LVCC innings, was content to block one end whilst Crook went on the rampage by taking eight runs off Kartik’s 22nd over and hitting Kartik for a six over backward square-leg in his next over. Crook was 35 not out with Rossington 6 not out in a Middlesex total of 142-7 at lunch; Gareth Batty had figures of 5-44 from 21 overs and Murali Kartik, who bowled throughout the session had figures of 2-56 from 24 overs.
Kartik and Batty continued to bowl after lunch and the Middlesex total reached 150-7 before Crook took nine runs off a Kartik over and reached a 58 ball fifty with his sixth four, in the following over from Batty. Rossington, meanwhile offered good support with solid defence and pushing singles to give Crook the strike. The pair took Middlesex to 184-7 before Gareth Batty rested himself and brought on Jade Dernbach at the Pavilion End.
Eleven runs came from Dernbach’s first over (which included four leg byes) but it was Dernbach who got the breakthrough in his next over when he bowled Steven Crook with a slow full-toss, Crook having made 68 off 88 balls (1 six & 9 fours). When Adam Rossington was caught at slip by Jason Roy off Murali Kartik for a valiant innings of 25, Middlesex were 197-9.
However, the Middlesex last wicket pair of Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh have batting averages in excess of 25 and with plenty of time to get a further 57 runs, they applied themselves to the task with solid defence and pushing singles to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Murtagh survived a chance when he played a Kartik delivery onto his boot and the rebound hit Burns on the helmet at short-leg with the total on 217-9.
With Kartik and Batty bowling in tandem, Surrey delayed taking the new ball until 90 overs had been bowled with Middlesex needing just 22 runs for an unlikely victory. The tea interval was put back by half-an-hour with a result in prospect and Middlesex gained a bonus two runs courtesy of a no-ball from Kartik and with Murtagh getting a two off the last ball of the over, Middlesex reached 239-9.
Five singles were scored in the next six overs before Tim Murtagh scored a single off the first ball of the 100th over. However Toby Roland-Jones was LBW to Gareth Batty off the third ball of the over to secure a Surrey victory by eight runs. Toby Roland-Jones made 17 off 85 balls and Tim Murtagh was 25 not out (off 91 balls). Murali Kartik bowled throughout the day at the Vauxhall End to finish with figures of 3-91 from 47 overs with Gareth Batty taking 6-83 from 36.3 overs.
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Middlesex will make at least a couple of changes to the team that lost to Sussex in Hove on Sunday for Wednesday's encounter against Surrey at The Kia Oval. One is enforced, one selectorial.
Ollie Rayner sustained a fracture to a finger on his left hand whilst batting and will be out of action for at least a fortnight. With Middlesex wanting to have spin options on a pitch that could well assist this style of bowling Andrew Balbirnie has been drafted into the squad to support Tom Smith. Balbirnie is prominently a middle order batsman capable of bowling respectable off-spin.
The selectorial change is that we have chosen to rest John Simpson, a move that will give Adam Rossington his LV=CC debut for the club. Simpson has struggled for runs in recent times and it is hoped the break will allow him to go away, work at his game to regain form and confidence.
The starting eleven will depend on the conditions we encounter at The Kia Oval but, needless to say, we are all hoping for an improved performance from the side after being outplayed at Sussex. It goes without saying that this is an important game for the club. Our aspirations of challenging for the title seem to be over but it is important we do not get dragged in to a relegation dog-fight at the bottom of the table. One win will probably ensure First Division cricket in 2013 and that is what we will be trying to achieve over the course of the next four days.
Middlesex CCC are pleased to announce the following 13-man squad to play against Surrey in this LV= County Championship match at the Kia Oval, starting tomorrow Wednesday 15 August:
Chris Rogers (captain)
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