Somerset run riot
Hundreds from Arul Suppiah and James Hildreth, together with 83 from the in-form Nick Compton, ensured Somerset dominated the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against Surrey.
The visitors made the most of a rare dry day and a sublime pitch at the Kia Oval to reach 441 for five, with top-scorer Hildreth falling three overs before stumps for a hugely impressive 120.
The stylish 27-year-old registered the 26th hundred of his first-class career from 117 balls, with 14 fours, to move Somerset within touching distance of 463 - their record total at the venue.
Although the pitch had sweated under the covers for the best part of two days leading up the game, Somerset had no hesitation in batting first and did so safe in the knowledge that the wicket lying beneath the sheets was one of the Kia Oval’s more batsman-friendly tracks.
This was just the type of surface that Surrey’s Mark Ramprakash - dropped for this match through poor form - has excelled upon for years.
As it was, Somerset openers Alex Barrow and Suppiah made first use of conditions, posting 63 for the first wicket in little more than 14 overs.
Barrow middled the majority of his strokes and struck 10 rasping fours in reaching 47 before steering a short one from Stuart Meaker into the hands of Tom Maynard at gully.
Other than Barrow’s blip, little happened in the opening two sessions to encourage Surrey’s bowlers and the hosts suffered a further blow when Chris Jordan, in trying to field a ball from midwicket, collided with umpire Trevor Jesty at square-leg. The player left the field for treatment to a facial injury and returned 15 minutes later.
The home attack were frequently guilty of dropping too short and allowed Somerset’s second-wicket partners Suppiah and Compton to cut and steer to their hearts content.
Suppiah posted his second century of the summer with a swept four - his 17th - off Gareth Batty.
Cantering along at almost 4.4 an over in adding 143, the duo looked untroubled until Compton had an unfortunate hand in running out Suppiah for 106.
Having pushed toward midwicket, Compton set off only to immediately send back his partner and leave Suppiah short of his ground at the non-striker’s end as Maynard’s throw arrived.
Compton made amends for his blunder by going on to post a 106-ball fifty but perished for 83 when he went back to a Zander de Bruyn off-cutter to go leg before to the last ball before tea.
Somerset upped their already impressive tempo even further when Hildreth teamed up with Craig Kieswetter after tea.
After the pair had added 108, Kieswetter looked to work Jon Lewis across the line and was lbw for 49.
Hildreth’s three-hour stay then ended in fading light when umpire Jesty upheld de Bruyn’s appeal for lbw only 19 balls before the close.