Fightback puts Warwickshire on top
Warwickshire will go into the final day of their LV= County Championship Division One clash with Surrey at the Kia Oval needing just 41 more runs to complete a memorable victory.
The visitors were grateful for a fifth-wicket stand of 111 in 32 overs between Tim Ambrose and Will Porterfield, who struck 74 not out and 66 respectively, as they ended the penultimate day of four on 181 for five.
With Gareth Batty adding four wickets to the six he took in Warwickshire’s first innings - registering the second 10-wicket haul of his career - it looked, at one stage, as though Surrey would wrap the game up inside three days.
Having been set 222 to win, Warwickshire lost Varun Chopra, leg before, to the fifth ball of the innings.
Will Porterfield and Ian Westwood both dispatched Jade Dernbach to the rope at cover-point in the seventh over, but the introduction of Batty four overs later placed further doubt in the minds of the visitors.
Westwood went to a brilliant catch by Tom Maynard, diving to his left at slip. Two overs later, Jim Troughton, looking to sweep, departed leg before and with Darren Maddy drilling the ball straight back to Batty, Warwickshire were on the ropes at 37 for four.
Porterfield then found a staunch ally in Ambrose and together they took the visitors up to 82 for four at tea.
Able to use the breeze to drift the ball into the left-hander and away from the right-hander, Batty was a constant threat. Yet Warwickshire’s fifth-wicket pair prospered by simply adopting a strategy of controlled accumulation at the other end.
Porterfield moved to a precious 114-ball half-century, which he celebrated by driving Dernbach past the squarer of the two men posted at short extra-cover for four.
Ambrose took 77 balls over his fifty, which he raised by digging out a yorker from Dernbach, causing the ball to fly to the third man boundary.
Batty’s persistence was eventually rewarded when Porterfield, playing back to one that skidded on, was trapped leg before for 66.
But Ambrose and Rikki Clarke safely negotiated the 12 overs that remained in the day.
Earlier, the hosts lost three quick wickets to the off-spin of Jeetan Patel after resuming 120 ahead on 144 for four.
In the second over of the day, Maynard was caught at silly point for 25.
Six overs later, Patel ended Jacques Rudolph’s knock of 22 by tempting him with a well-flighted delivery, which the South Africa batsman played all around.
With Batty picking out Chris Woakes at mid-on to make it 165 for seven, Warwickshire had their noses in front once more.
But the visitors had not taken account of Chris Jordan and Jon Lewis, who, by adding 54 in 14 overs, combined for Surrey’s most productive partnership of the match.
Lewis, who has contributed regularly with the bat since moving to the Kia Oval, made 31 before driving Patel to short midwicket, where Porterfield, diving forward, took a good catch.
Patel, who finished with 6-95, then trapped Jordan leg before for 40. Three overs later, Chris Woakes drew a line under Surrey’s second innings by bowling the overzealous Dernbach.