Ben Foakes and Jamie Smith put together a high-quality unbroken 93-run stand as Surrey beat Middlesex by six wickets at The Kia Oval.
Foakes made 60 not out and Smith an unbeaten 38 in a calm and assured fifth wicket partnership to steer Surrey past Middlesex’s 113 for 9 with an ultimately comfortable 11 balls to spare.
On a sluggish pitch taking spin, Middlesex struggled badly against Surrey’s trio of slow bowlers but, when Surrey replied, they were also soon 23 for 4 as paceman Steven Finn removed Will Jacks and Laurie Evans in his first two overs and leg spinner Nathan Sowter then sent back Hashim Amla and Rory Burns in a dramatic fifth over.
Foakes, however, hit eight fours in a 50-ball knock full of Test-class strokes on both sides of the wicket, and 20-year-old Smith was almost as good with four boundaries in his 35-ball effort. At halfway, Surrey still had a bit to do at 55 for 4 but Foakes and Smith were more than equal to the challenge in a controlled exhibition of batting under pressure.
Earlier Gareth Batty, Surrey’s 42-year-old captain, picked up 3 for 18 with his off spin, while Jacks took 2 for 16 and did not concede a single boundary in his four overs of off breaks.
Slow left-armer Dan Moriarty was wicketless but bowled tidily, as did left-arm seamer Reece Topley with 1 for 21, while 22-year-old fast bowler Gus Atkinson was also impressive with 2 for 18 from three overs.
Middlesex, after choosing to bat, got off to a poor start with Stephen Eskinazi bowled for 2 by one that turned from Jacks, trying to flail a ball through the off side in the second over.
Martin Andersson, who straight drove Atkinson’s first ball beautifully for four, then drove all round the seamer’s second delivery and was bowled for 7 to leave Middlesex 15 for 2 in the fourth over
Only a wild first over by Jamie Overton, costing 14 and in which Max Holden carved a no ball full toss for four and also pulled fiercely to the boundary, helped Middlesex get to 39 for 2 by the end of the powerplay – but the innings then fell away badly as the Surrey spinners tightened the noose.
Left-hander Holden, having reached a run-a-ball 29, chopped on against Jacks and Batty’s introduction for the 11th over suddenly left Middlesex in real trouble at 63 for 5 as 20-year-old debutant Jack Davies mishit a reverse sweep to point to go for 16 and James Harris was leg-before for 2.
Worse was to follow in Batty’s second over when Dan Lincoln (4) pulled a short ball to deep mid wicket and from 75 for 6 Middlesex limped into three figures as catches in the deep, off Topley and Atkinson respectively, undid both John Simpson (11) and Luke Hollman (17) before Sowter was run out for 3 in the final over attempting a second run to Moriarty’s partial misfield at short fine leg.
Sowter’s evening did get better later when former South Africa star Amla chipped a return catch to him off a leading edge and Burns was leg-before for 0 two balls later, sweeping.
With Finn having hit Jacks a painful blow on the hand, which needed on-field treatment, prior to getting him caught at mid on for 4 off a skier, and then foxing Evans (1) with a slower ball, Surrey were suddenly up against it.
Foakes and Smith, though, showed that batting was still very possible even though Sowter finished with 2 for 16 and Finn 2 for 21.