Sunil Narine showcased his world-class all-round short-form skills as a sell out crowd at The Kia Oval saw Surrey beat Middlesex by seven wickets to maintain their unbeaten record at the top of the Vitality Blast’s South Group.
West Indies star Narine hit four sixes in his 29-ball 51 not out as Surrey made it seven wins from eight Blast matches, plus a no result against Glamorgan. For Middlesex it was a sixth successive defeat.
Ollie Pope finished unbeaten on 37 as Surrey cruised to 158 for 3 in 15.1 overs in reply to Middlesex’s 155 for 8, in which Luke Hollman’s 31 was the top score. Both Narine and Surrey captain Chris Jordan took 2 for 27 from their four-over allocations.
Will Jacks’ explosive 43 from 20 balls gave Surrey the perfect start to their chase, the gifted 23-year-old driving and upper-cutting two remarkable sixes over cover off paceman Tom Helm in a fourth over costing 18 runs.
Jacks then flicked another effortless six behind square leg as 17 more came from the next over, Jason Behrendorff’s third, a tally that included a beautiful four through extra cover from Pope.
It was the left-armer Behrendorff who had dismissed Jamie Smith for 15, caught at deep mid-wicket after taking three fours in the previous over from off-spinner Chris Green.
Jacks mishit Hollman’s leg spin to long off in the seventh over and Laurie Evans was also caught there for 5 as he tried to hit Thilan Walallawita’s left-arm spin for six.
But that only brought in Narine, who warmed to his task by hitting Hollman for six before taking two sixes from the next over, bowled by Helm. Narine then ended the game by thumping Behrendorff for another six, taking his unbroken fourth-wicket stand with Pope to 73 off 7.3 overs.
It did not help Middlesex’s cause that their captain Stevie Eskinazi was run out for 25 off 19 balls after looking in good touch.
Middlesex were 51 for 2 after the six-over powerplay, 84 for 3 at halfway and 121 for 5 after 15 overs. At no stage did they threaten to overpower Surrey’s seven-strong bowling attack, and lost wickets at regular intervals.
Max Holden’s first attempt at a big shot, in the second over, merely ended up as a horribly skewed mishit off Jacks’ off spin to backward point and the left-handed opener departed for 3.
Joe Cracknell lofted his second ball high over mid off for six, off Jacks, and also thumped Dan Worrall’s first ball, at the start of the fourth over, over long off for another maximum. But having edged a rapid Worrall bouncer fortuitously over the keeper for four, he was then deceived by a slower ball later in the Australian paceman’s opening over and held at deep mid wicket for 19.
Eskinazi, guiding Jacks just to the left of Pope at backward point from the last ball of the eighth over, was furious with his partner John Simpson when he was refused a sharp single and run out by Pope’s throw to keeper Smith.
Jack Davies began with two fours in mystery spinner Narine’s first over, with reverse and orthodox sweeps, but lost Simpson for 25 in the 11th when the Middlesex keeper skied Jordan to extra cover after battling through 22 balls in a vain effort to give the innings some momentum.
Davies (17) then reverse slapped Narine to short third-man and Green (14) hit a full Atkinson delivery to mid off. Martin Andersson, down the pitch and swishing at Narine, was stumped for 6 and Hollman’s 28-ball innings ended from the last ball when he clubbed Jordan to long on.