Winning start for Surrey
Surrey produced a sensational performance in the field to claim an unlikely 17-run win over Essex in their Friends Life t20 South Group opener at the Kia Oval.
Having opted to bat first, the hosts managed just 128 for eight as Graham Napier’s three wickets put the Eagles in the ascendancy.
Yet, despite Ravi Bopara and Mark Pettini sharing a 44-run opening partnership, the Eagles were unable to chase 129 as Surrey emerged victorious.
After beginning so fluently alongside Bopara, Pettini edged Jade Dernbach behind as the complexion of the game changed completely.
Indeed, by the time the score had been doubled, Essex found themselves in deep trouble having lost a further seven wickets in the next 10 overs.
Gareth Batty was the chief destroyer with 3-20; he trapped Owais Shah leg before, claimed the prized scalp of Bopara - who top-edged a reverse sweep to Matthew Spriegel at backward point - and had James Franklin caught at mid-off.
The latter wicket came after the New Zealander had been involved in a horrendous mix-up with Napier, who was run out after mis-communication.
That epitomised an Essex effort that, having started so positively, ended on 111 for nine.
Surrey’s significant partnership came from their sixth-wicket pairing of Gary Wilson and Zafar Ansari, who added 40 having come together at 68 for five shortly after the halfway stage of the innings.
Wilson top-scored with a run-a-ball 33 that included three of the 15 boundaries recorded by the home side while Jason Roy contributed 22 from 19 deliveries.
The pick of the Essex attack was Napier, who found the right line and length from the start to pose problems for the home batsmen throughout his four overs.
The burly all-rounder struck with successive deliveries in his opening over, taking a return catch off Rory Hamilton-Brown before bowling Zander de Bruyn with a yorker.
That was well supported by 2-19 from last year’s most prolific bowler in the competition Tim Phillips - though their efforts would eventually prove in vain.