Spinners secure Surrey victory
Spinners Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari bagged a wicket apiece as Surrey clinched a tense 21-run win over Kent in a nerve-racking finish to their LV= County Championship Division Two match at the Kia Oval.
Defeat left Rob Key crestfallen after he almost single-handedly steered his Kent side to the brink of victory with a fine 162, only for Surrey to wrap up victory 55 minutes into the final day.
Resuming on 270 for eight and in pursuit of the 52 runs required for a third win of the campaign, Kent made the best of starts as ninth-wicket partners Key and Robbie Joseph clipped 10 runs off their target within two overs.
Farming the strike intelligently from the first ball of the final day, Key scampered two leg-byes and a single in Tim Linley’s opening over then, after another tight two off Chris Tremlett, profited with four overthrows after a wild return from Tom Maynard evaded keeper Steven Davies and flew to the ropes.
The bonus boundary also raised Key’s 150 after 329 minutes at the crease, taking 251 balls with 16 fours.
Joseph, who took an hour to get off the mark, also played his part by bravely getting into line against England paceman Tremlett and was forced to duck under a bouncer from Linley that swung past Davies for four byes.
With Kent still 29 runs shy, off-spinner Batty replaced Tremlett at the Pavilion End, but Key milked three from the over to claim the strike once more.
Surrey skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown opted for spin at both ends by introducing left-armed debutant Ansari, who, after sending down a full toss and leg-side wide, struck with his seventh ball.
As he looked to sweep from the leg-stump rough and steal the strike yet again, Key was bowled around his legs.
Twenty-five runs were needed when last man Ashley Shaw joined Joseph, who enjoyed a let-off when he pushed a sharp chance to Hamilton-Brown at silly point off Ansari before finally getting under way with a quick single.
However, Shaw aimed a pre-meditated reverse-sweep at Batty only to glove a simple chance to Jason Roy at short-leg to fall without scoring and give Surrey their third championship win of the summer and, with it, 23 points.