Ramprakash's century show

Somerset 377 Surrey 301-3
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The Independent Online

There was a feeling of inevitability about events here yesterday. Mark Ramprakash was within touching distance of his second Championship century of the season and the man bowling to him was Richard Johnson, his former team-mate at Middlesex until both went their separate ways in the winter: Ramprakash to Surrey and Johnson to Somerset.

Ramprakash had already dispatched the second ball of Johnson's 13th over ­ a full toss ­ through extra cover for his 14th boundary. He then played out two more before driving into the covers for the two runs he needed to reach the 53rd hundred of his career and his fourth against Somerset.

Ramprakash and Nadeem Shahid had put some smiles on the faces of the Surrey supporters in a murderous assault on the Somerset bowling. They piled up 119 runs for the third wicket in 27 overs and set Surrey well on track for a full bag of batting bonus points to go with the maximum they picked up for bowling out Somerset earlier in the day. Shahid had thumped a six and 11 other boundaries in his half century before he was out top-edging an attempted hook. Somerset were horribly handicapped by that stage, having lost their new-ball bowler Matthew Bulbeck when he pulled a muscle in his lower back early in the afternoon session.

Surrey had rather let things slip in the first hour of the day as captain Adam Hollioake persisted with a further 14 overs of spin, during which time Ian Salisbury removed Keith Dutch, but it was not until the new ball was finally taken that any real progress was made by the defending county champions.

Martin Bicknell's third delivery ended Ian Blackwell's feisty knock, and in his next over he accounted for Matthew Bulbeck. Unfortunately for Surrey the man they needed to remove, Johnson, was rather more reluctant to give up his wicket. Having just returned from a back injury, the former Middlesex fast bowler was enjoying himself. He had already clouted Salisbury for a six and slogged another one over midwicket, this time off Bicknell on the way to the fourth fifty of his first-class career.

At that point Bicknell got his man, but a fair amount of damage had been done by then, with 107 runs being added at approximately one per minute and earning Somerset two precious batting bonus points.

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