A look at everything that happened on the third day of play between Surrey and Leicestershire at The Kia Oval in the LV= County Championship.
Ollie Pope’s majestic 245 and a maiden championship hundred by Jamie Smith, who hit 123 from 148 balls and reached three figures with a six over extra cover, have given Surrey the chance to force victory against Leicestershire at the Kia Oval.
Surrey’s mammoth 672 for 8 declared, their highest first-class total against Leicestershire, earned them a 297-run first innings lead although openers Hassan Azad and Sam Evans did well to get to 21 without loss in 17 overs’ batting at the end of day three.
Pope, resuming on 92, stayed overall for seven hours and struck 30 fours while 20-year-old Smith came in after Ben Foakes – going from an overnight 68 to 87 – had helped Pope to add 229 for the fourth wicket, a record against the Foxes at the Oval.
Smith and Pope then plundered 234 in 39 overs for the fifth wicket, with Leicestershire’s attack seemingly powerless to stop them. When they both fell attacking Colin Ackermann’s off spin, Pope stumped and Smith bowled, Jordan Clark clubbed four sixes in a 54-ball 61 not out with Jamie Overton and Matt Dunn – who also drove Ackermann straight for six – in support.
Pope’s double-hundred, just six runs shy of his career-best, was an important innings for the gifted 23-year-old, who endured a difficult winter in India alongside most of England’s Test top order but spoke in pre-season about how he and others had “learned a lot of good lessons”, predominantly the importance of mixing a secure defensive technique with a ruthless attitude towards identifying scoring options. Or, as Pope put it, “nailing your defence and nailing your boundary options”, something he assuredly did here.
Since the start of last summer, Pope averages only 23 for England and, last week at Bristol, scored just 22 and 0 in Surrey’s chastening opening round defeat against Gloucestershire. In this match, though, he has looked in fine fettle from the moment he arrived at the crease with Surrey soon to be 93 for 3 in reply to Leicestershire’s 375.
He needed only six balls to reach his hundred today, punching Gavin Griffiths through extra cover for four to reach 98 and, next ball, going up on his toes to steer to third man for his 15th boundary. Surrey’s only moment of slight concern came when Foakes lost his off stump to Dieter Klein, pushing forward as the left arm paceman came around the wicket with the second new ball and the total 322.
But Smith arrived to match Pope stroke for stroke, pulling Chris Wright violently for a shot-of-the-day six while Pope on-drove the same bowler for four with languid grace to reach 200 in the final over before the 80-minute mid-afternoon break taken as a mark of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Surrey XI: Burns, Stoneman, Amla, Pope, Foakes, Smith, Clark, Overton, Roach, Dunn, Virdi
Leicestershire XI: Azad, Evans, Dearden, Ackermann, Hill, Swindells, Mike, Parkinson, Wright, Griffiths, Klein
ELSEWHERE IN GROUP 2
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