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Brilliant Rayner spins Middlesex to win

Ollie Rayner eventually won an intriguing battle with Hashim Amla at the Kia Oval as Middlesex completed a 146-run LV= County Championship victory against Surrey inside three days to stay in mathematical contention for the Division One title.

Rayner finished with 7-72, and remarkable match figures of 15-118, as Surrey collapsed to 238 all out at the end of a steamy day which, up to then, had been dominated by South Africa star Amla’s superb 84.

Middlesex had earlier set Surrey, who remain in the relegation zone, 385 to win by declaring their second innings on 235 for nine after batting on for just over an hour in the morning session.

It seemed that Amla’s three-and-a-half hour defiance against Middlesex’s frontline spinners, Rayner and slow left-armer Ravi Patel, would take the game into its final day but two more quick wickets followed his departure to the last ball of the 87th over, prompting umpires Jeremy Lloyds and Trevor Jesty to award the extra half hour.

That was enough to allow Rayner to polish off the Surrey second innings and also earn himself record match figures by a Middlesex bowler against Surrey, beating the previous mark of 14-97 by J A Young in 1948 at the same ground.

Rayner, whose match haul is the seventh best in first-class matches for Middlesex, and also the best for the county since 1955, had a hand in 18 of the 20 Surrey wickets to fall in the game - catching Steven Davies at second slip off Corey Collymore to start Surrey’s final slide towards defeat after Davies had scored 38 in a fifth-wicket stand of 86 with Amla.

Patel had made the initial breakthrough, trapping Arun Harinath on the back foot to have him lbw for 23 soon after lunch.

Rayner was then into the action, winning an lbw shout to dismiss Rory Burns for 24 and then following up with the scalps of Vikram Solanki, caught at backward short-leg for 14, and Zander de Bruyn, who was expertly held low and one-handed by Sam Robson at short-leg.

At 102 for four it looked as if Surrey would succumb quietly, but not for nothing is Amla ranked as the world’s top batsman in both Test and one-day international cricket.

Despite the difficult conditions, with both Rayner and Patel finding extravagant turn from the dry and dusting surface, Amla began to take control while Davies hung on in support.

And Middlesex were beginning to grow anxious about a poor weather forecast for the scheduled final day when skipper Chris Rogers took the second new ball with Surrey 184 for four.

It brought almost immediate success, with Collymore removing Davies in the third over with the new ball, and four overs later the returning Rayner produced a spitting off-break to defeat Amla at last, caught by Rogers at backward short-leg after batting for 192 balls and hitting six fours.

Stuart Meaker and Gareth Batty then fell to Rayner in the space of four deliveries, Meaker caught off bat and pad by Rogers and Batty taken at midwicket.

Tim Linley edged Patel to second slip to go for a duck, as Middlesex moved in for the kill, and there was only a few big hits by Jade Dernbach before Rayner had him skying to cover on 22 to finish with figures of 37.4-14-72-7.

The third day began with Middlesex resuming their second innings on 113 for five - an overnight lead of 282 - and Dawid Malan, already 28 not out, set the tone for just over an hour of aggressive batting by going to a 97-ball fifty before being adjudged lbw sweeping at Batty’s off-spin.

Batty and Gary Keedy, the slow-left armer who had taken the first five Middlesex wickets to fall on the second evening, bowled in tandem while 102 runs were scored in 19.3 overs for the loss of four wickets.

Joe Denly, batting at seven because he had been off the field for the entire second day with a bad migraine, played some pleasing strokes in a quickfire 31 before he too was lbw after being beaten by Batty’s turn.

James Harris took his overnight six to 24 until he was caught at deep midwicket swinging hard at Keedy, whose final figures were 6-101, and Rayner also offered a useful 28 from just 24 balls.

Middlesex’s declaration came when Rayner was rapped on the pads by Batty, who finished with 3-86.

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