Surrey gave themselves a fighting chance of preserving their place in the First Division with a tense eight-run win over Middlesex at The Oval, where they had their opponents on the brink of defeat at 197 for 9 chasing 254 to win but then took 29 overs to claim the last wicket.
Middlesex, who had beaten their neighbours by three runs in a similar finish at Lord's in April, had the winning post in sight after Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones picked off runs with extraordinary patience. Facing the left-armer Murali Kartik at one end and the off-spinner Gareth Batty at the other on a turning pitch, the last-wicket pair put on 48.
Batty, who has taken over from Rory Hamilton-Brown as Surrey captain, took two calculated gambles with the new ball, first passing up the chance to use it until 10 overs after it became available, then deciding not to give it to his seamers.
But he had the last word when he trapped Roland Jones leg before wicket, finishing with 6 for 83. Middlesex, who had been 45 for 1 overnight, had slumped to 101 for 7 earlier, but were kept in the hunt by a 96-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Adam Rossington and Steven Crook, who hit nine fours in his 67, before both were out in the space of three deliveries, at which point Surrey could have had no idea it would take so long to finish the job.
The win takes Surrey to 102 points, 18 clear of next to bottom Lancashire, whose rain-affected match at Worcestershire ended in a draw with the captains unable to reach agreement over how to force a positive result.
Hampshire pushed Yorkshire out of the promotion places in Division Two when they chased down 326 from 72 overs to beat Northamptonshire at the Rose Bowl, where Jimmy Adams made 149 and Neil McKenzie 98.
Yorkshire forced the leaders Derbyshire to follow on at Headingley despite a half-century from David Wainwright, but a century from Usman Khawaja, their Pakistan-born Australian Test player, ensured no second-innings collapse and snuffed out Yorkshire's hopes of a victory.Reuse content