Victorious Middlesex on the up while Surrey suffer
Monday 31 August 2009
Both London sides have endured dismal seasons but while Surrey's luck shows no sign of changing their rivals from north of the Thames are finally beginning to show some form. Middlesex yesterday recorded only their second Championship victory of the season, over Gloucestershire, to drag themselves away from the bottom of the Second Division. In contrast Surrey, who now have the indignity of propping up that table, face a tough battle today to avoid defeat to Kent at Canterbury.
It was Gareth Berg who shouldered much of the wicket-taking burden – he claimed 5-55 – as the Lord's team secured a 180-run victory. It was a career-best performance for the South African medium-pacer, who broke the back of the Gloucestershire batting with a spell of three for three in 10 balls just after lunch. The visitors had started the day requiring 351 runs for victory with seven wickets intact but they never looked likely winners, especially after Berg came into the attack.
In his third over of the day, he had Kadeer Ali caught by Nick Compton for 48 in the gully and then, with his next ball, he knocked back the middle stump of Steve Adshead. Gloucestershire subsided after lunch to be all out for 225.
Surrey, who began yesterday on reasonably even terms with Kent, will do well to match that. They are 148-5, just 54 runs ahead of their historic rivals, with Mark Ramprakash out of the game after fracturing a thumb on Saturday. He saw Darren Stevens smash a 126-ball 112, thereby bucking the trend of a mediocre four-day season, as Kent sped along at almost five an over to reach 517. They will expect to complete a resounding victory today that should all but secure their return to the First Division.
Hampshire may or may not be waiting for them there next season. Having won just two four-day games in 2009 they are still at risk of relegation and will be feeling frustrated after bad light robbed them of an opportunity against Somerset. Needing 140 from 17 overs to win, they were nine without loss from 11 balls when umpires Mark Benson and Nick Cook brought an end to the match.
Much happier are Sri Lanka, who have completed a 2-0 Test series triumph over New Zealand in Colombo. Daniel Vettori scored 140 – his highest Test score – but the Kiwis, who started the day on 182 for six chasing an improbable 494 for victory, were eventually bowled out for 397, losing by 96 runs. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath was the star for the hosts, taking five for 139 from 48 overs.
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