Scott Borthwick and Kumar Sangakkara hit hundreds and broke Red Rose hearts in SE11 where Surrey lost only two wickets in batting through the final day to secure a worthy Specsavers County Championship draw with Lancashire at an overcast Kia Oval.
The two left-handers showed admirable patience and technique by combining to add 256 for the third wicket, as Sangakkara posted his seventh first-class hundred for the Brown Caps. At the other end, Borthwick notched his first ton in Surrey colours and remained unbeaten on 108 as the hosts reached 323 for three – for a lead of 172 when the players shook hands on the draw at 4.50pm.
"This was something I've dreamt of for the past five months," a jubilant Borthwick said of his century. "It was a good feeling and I think we needed it as a team to bounce back from day three. Batting with Sanga and watching him go about his business in building and innings was unbelievable. It was the best seat in the house with him batting at the other end."
Having failed to avoid the follow-on by an agonising two runs on Sunday afternoon, Surrey resumed their second innings on their overnight score of 55 for one – representing an overall match deficit of 96 going into bank holiday Monday’s fourth and final day.
They soon appeared in deeper trouble when Lancashire’s slow left-arm spinner Stephen Parry struck in only his second over of the day from the Pavilion End. With a nicely flighted arm-ball, he drew Mark Stoneman (27) down the pitch to beat the left-hander’s defensive push past the outside edge, leaving Alex Davies to smash down the stumps and complete a comfortable, if somewhat scruffy stumping.
That was the cue for third-wicket partners Sangakkara and fellow left-hander Borthwick to dig in. Either side of lunch and tea the pair added an admirable 256 under the floodlights to block out the prospect of a Lancashire win.
Borthwick, the close-season signing from Durham, posted a patient 129-ball 50 with three fours – his first for the Surrey – then, soon after, Sangakkara went past the milestone from only 77 balls faced with three fours and a six.
With sweepers positioned on both the leg and off-side boundaries to help restrict the number of Surrey boundaries, Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone introduced his leg-spinners at the Pavilion End to cause Sangakkara his first and only real headaches of the day.
The winner of 134 Test caps, Sangakkara survived one appeal for lbw after padding up to a Livingstone top-spinner then the left-hander prodded just out of the reach of short leg to help the hosts reach 200 just before 3pm.
Then, with his score on 72, Sangakkara pushed hard-handed and edged another Livingstone top-spinner only to see Ryan McLaren down a simple catch at slip. Rather than doubting his capabilities to defend thereafter, Sangakkara duly went on the counter against Livingstone by plundering a brace of fours in his next over to effectively hit the leg-twirler out of the attack.
Sangakkara dominated the strike through until tea and continued to go for his shots, sweeping against Simon Kerrigan for his 11th four to post his 57th first-class century and take his side in at tea with a lead of 104.
As the game limped into its final session Borthwick, who scored championship centuries in both innings for his former county against Lancashire at Chester-le-Street last May, went to his 16th first-class hundred from 233 balls with a thunderous pull-shot to a Parry long-hop for his 10th boundary.
Simon Kerrigan looked as surprised as anyone in the ground when he bowled Sangakkara around his legs to end his four-and-a-quarter hour stay for 136 and a third partnership that lasted 64.2 overs.
The draw, which was completed five minutes later, ensured that both these top-flight counties remain unbeaten going into the third round of early-season first division matches.
Glenn Chapple, the Lancashire coach was happy with his side's fightback after losing five, first innings wickets on the first morning of the match. He said:"We had a very tough first hour in the game but from that point on have fought hard for four days and I'm really pleased with the performance.