Ricky Ponting hit a masterful 65, his highest score in the Friends Life t20, but it was not enough to stop Essex Eagles ending Surrey’s run of four successive victories with an eight-wicket triumph in front of a crowd of nearly 15,000 at the Kia Oval.
Hamish Rutherford gave Essex a flying start in pursuit of 149 with 30 off 17 balls before Greg Smith and Owais Shah shared in a second-wicket partnership of 98 in 12 overs to help the visitors cruise home with seven balls to spare.
A fourth win puts Essex alongside Hampshire Royals at the top of the South Division, although they have an inferior run-rate and have played two games more.
Ponting, who had scored only 35 runs in his three previous innings in the competition with a highest score of 19, found himself at the crease in the second over after Steven Davies had got a leading edge to his first ball from Graham Napier and ballooned it back to the bowler.
Jason Roy had already hit two fours off Shaun Tait in the first over and struck a couple more off David Masters in the third.
He and Ponting had added only 43 in six overs when Roy was run-out for 30 by Ryan ten Doeschate’s throw from midwicket.
Ponting and Glenn Maxwell were no quicker in a third-wicket stand of 45 yet the former Australia captain upped the ante by scooping ten Doeschate to fine-leg for four and driving Reece Topley over long-off to reach his fifty off 40 balls.
Maxwell was then brilliantly caught one-handed by Tim Phillips on the midwicket boundary off ten Doeschate.
It was also Phillips who held the catch at long-on to get rid of Ponting off Topley after he had made his 65 off 54 balls with six fours and a six.
That represented another brilliant performance from the 38-year-old, who last week finished his first-class career with an unbeaten 169, but Essex did well to restrict Surrey to 148 for six.
They did even better with the bat, Rutherford setting the pace with two fours and two sixes before he was well caught at deep backward square-leg off Jon Lewis.
Smith then took over, accelerating to 62 off 42 balls with four fours and three sixes, while Shah, who remained unbeaten, offered fine support with a 45-delivery 46, including two fours and a six.