Ramprakash and Bicknell put Surrey in command

Surrey 693 Nottinghamshire 224-8
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The Independent Online

There is little doubt that, so far in this match, bottom of the table Nottinghamshire have been taken to the cleaners by the First Division leaders, Surrey.

Having first been hung out to dry by the Surrey batsmen - most notably Mark Ramprakash, who reached a career-best 279 not out yesterday - Nottinghamshire then folded up in the face of some superb bowling by Martin Bicknell.

With two full days remaining Surrey have the time, the talent and, most importantly, the hunger to finish this off and accrue maximum points in the quest to make a successful defence of their Championship crown.

As one-sided as this match has been, there was still some resistance from Nottinghamshire. Russell Warren dug in deeply with a dogged 76, and the prolific Kevin Pietersen, another British-passport-carrying South African who qualifies for England next year, passed fifty for the eighth time in his last 11 outings.

Nottinghamshire do not bat as far down as Surrey, whose last two wickets added 236 for their 12th-highest first-class total. Still, the visitors did their best, though the start they made did not help them. Bicknell laid the foundations for the 40th five-wicket haul of his career with a spell of 3 for 6 in 21 balls. It included his brother Darren, lbw for the second time to his younger sibling in successive innings - the first was in the meeting in May at Trent Bridge - and reduced Nottinghamshire to a feeble 20 for 3.

Pietersen and Warren grafted for more than an hour and a half, adding 113 runs for the fourth wicket, but once the former fell, looking for a boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq, Nottinghamshire were up against it. Chris Cairns and Chris Read fell victim to Bicknell, then, at the death, the spinners struck.

Warren's four-hour effort ended when he fell lbw to the leg-spinner, Ian Salisbury, in the penultimate over. Four balls later, Paul Franks edged a Saqlain delivery to Graham Thorpe at first slip.

It all made Ramprakash's superlative innings, the ninth double hundred of his career, all the more impressive. In his eight and a half hours at the crease he hit four sixes and an incredible 40 fours.

He made batting look ridiculously easy, as did his last two partners, Salisbury and Saqlain, who both reached half-centuries, the latter for the third successive innings.

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