Cricket: Lehmann grounded

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The Independent Online
Surrey 549 and 153 Yorkshire 387 and 115-4 Match drawn

Rain washed what had promised to be a thrilling finish to an intriguing match down the storm drains at The Oval, leaving Surrey still winless a third of the way through a Championship campaign they were widely tipped to dominate.

False hopes had been raised and pulses stirred in both camps on the final morning when Yorkshire emerged under already darkening skies looking for the remaining 297 runs they needed for what would have been a famous victory, given the way things had gone early on.

Surrey hearts were the first to be set racing. Martin Bicknell, swinging the ball prodigiously at times, had two wickets in his first over - the second of the day. Richard Kettleborough did not even simmer before he was bowled driving at an inswinger, out before Yorkshire had added to their Saturday score of 19. That wicket was followed two deliveries later by that of Kettleborough's captain David Byas, given out leg before.

Bicknell had not finished with them. He almost had Darren Lehmann lbw the very next ball with another awkward delivery. Lehmann and Martyn Moxon moved the score cagily towards relative safety, but Bicknell then got one to lift a little off a length and Moxon gloved a catch to Ian Salisbury at short leg. At 34 for 3 it needed something drastic. Enter Lehmann to raise the Yorkshire fans' blood pressure.

While Bradley Parker was struggling to get off the mark, Lehmann, a South Australian, was attempting singlehandedly to shred the Surrey attack, cutting, carving and slashing his way to a fine 50 off 61 balls. He did survive a confident shout for a catch down the leg side when he was on two, but the way he coped firstly with Bicknell then Surrey's canny overseas signing Saqlain Mushtaq was priceless.

Parker, who had taken 39 minutes to get off the mark, was not so fortunate in his reading of Saqlain and played on to a delivery from the Pakistan off-spinner on the stroke of lunch when he had reached 19. The match was perfectly poised but so were the clouds, and lunchtime stretched beyond tea and into a gloomy, premature close.

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