Sun sets on holders following Knight's fall

Surrey 291-7 Warwickshire 203 Surrey win by 88 runs
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The Independent Online
The suspicion that Warwickshire's star is falling was reinforced here by a comfortable 88-run Surrey victory that denied the holders even a place in the quarter-finals of this year's NatWest Trophy.

Having lost in the semi-finals of the Benson and Hedges Cup, this is the first season in four in which Warwickshire's supporters have no Lord's final to contemplate. On the evidence so far, they need to find a fair measure of improvement if they are to retain their championship.

Surrey's matchwinners were their England batsman Graham Thorpe, who returned from Test duty with a solid 96 and the all-rounder Adam Hollioake, who offered the most effective support with the bat and claimed two important wickets. The most impressive bowling came from the rejuvenated Chris Lewis and the decisive wicket that of Nick Knight, caught and bowled by Martin Bicknell.

Thorpe did not deserve to be foiled one good hit from a century after batting splendidly from the ninth over, organising a steady acceleration in Surrey's progress from a slow beginning. Shaun Pollock and Tim Munton each bowled tightly with the new ball on a slow pitch and Surrey fell well behind the rate they had probably been planning for.

However, a third-wicket stand between Thorpe and Alistair Brown added 83 in 14 overs before Brown played across one from Gladstone Small. Further improvement came when Thorpe was joined by Hollioake, who needed only 46 balls to reach 51 in an exciting exhibition of powerful hitting that did some damage to Munton's analysis and looked good for a few more until, swinging at Pollock, he found Small lying in wait on the midwicket boundary.

The partnership added 92 in the 13 most valuable overs of the innings, ending when Ashley Giles, the left-arm spinner, gained an lbw verdict bowling over the wicket to Thorpe, who had faced 139 balls, hitting 10 of them for fours.

Warwickshire started briskly in pursuit of their target and were ahead of Surrey's scoring rate when they reached 158 for 3 in the 40th over, but the loss of Knight began a collapse in which their last seven wickets fell for 45 runs, Lewis producing two fine deliveries in the space of four balls to dismiss Trevor Penney and Michael Burns on his way to figures of 3 for 33.

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