Sam Curran took three wickets on his return to the Surrey side, alongside England team-mate Ben Foakes, as Surrey ended Day One of their Bob Willis Trophy Fixture needing two wickets to end Kent’s first innings.
Grant Stewart made 58 and Harry Podmore scored a fine 42-ball 47 from No 8 as the pair added 73 for the seventh wicket and Kent reached a determined 295 for 8 after being put in by Surrey on the opening day of their Bob Willis Trophy fixture at the Kia Oval.
Sam Curran returned from England Test duty to take 3 for 65 for Surrey but it was the lower order partnership between Podmore and Stewart that ultimately edged the day Kent’s way after a battling performance.
There were also half-century stands for the second and fifth wickets, respectively by Daniel Bell-Drummond and Jack Leaning and then by Marcus O’Riordan and Darren Stevens, to frustrate a Surrey attack.
At 99 for 4 in mid-afternoon, however, it looked like it would be Surrey’s day after Bell-Drummond fell for a fighting 111-ball 45 – leg-before to Adam Finch – and Ollie Robinson was also pinned in front for 17 by Curran.
But O’Riordan, a contemporary of England’s Zak Crawley when they were both at Tonbridge School, reached 30 from 65 balls while veteran all-rounder Stevens made 24, before edging Rikki Clarke to Ben Foakes behind the stumps, as the pair led a counter-attack with a stand of 55 in 13 overs.
And then, after O’Riordan had thin-edged Curran to Foakes in the second over after tea, pushing at one angled across him from the left-arm seamer, Podmore arrived to play an excellent knock that included six fours and a big six sweetly-struck into the new Peter May Stand construction site off Amar Virdi.
Stewart also drove off spinner Virdi for a straight six and hit five fours in his 103-ball innings, before being eighth out in the day’s 87th over when he went down the pitch to Virdi, missed an attempted lofted drive and was bowled leg stump.
The 22-year-old O’Riordan impressed in what is just his fifth first-class game. He has been getting his Kent chance in this abbreviated summer largely because of the absences of Crawley and other senior players, and despite his off spin being reportedly his strongest cricketing suit he has looked very comfortable taking various top-order batting roles in the past month.
In his fourth Bob Willis Trophy appearance, O’Riordan came in at 99 for three and resisted gamely, hitting five fours before departing at 170 for six. The efforts of Podmore, Stewart and Matt Milnes, who finished on 22 not out after a handy 49-run stand with Stewart, then ensured that Kent were marginally the happier of the two teams at stumps.
Earlier Kent had fought hard to get to 56 for 1 by lunch, with Bell-Drummond being joined by Leaning in a second wicket partnership of 58 in 25 overs after Jordan Cox had gone in the ninth over, leg-before to a Matt Dunn yorker.
Leaning eventually went for 21, chipping Curran to mid on off a leading edge in the sixth over after lunch, and just before his dismissal by Finch, acting captain Bell-Drummond was hit on the shoulder by the impressive 20-year-old paceman, making his second Surrey appearance on loan from Worcestershire.
Finch, though, then had to wait until deep into the final session to get his second scalp, that of Podmore who carved to backward point.
Wicketkeeper Foakes, like Curran, was playing his first Willis Trophy game after being released from England’s bio-secure Test bubble but Surrey were without fast bowler Morne Morkel, who picked up a niggle in the defeat against Hampshire at Arundel last week.
Kent, without Joe Denly and Sam Billings – who have joined England’s white-ball squad – and Heino Kuhn, who is on paternity leave, have given a first-class debut to 20-year-old paceman Nathan Gilchrist, signed from Somerset earlier this summer, and who finished on 1 not out.