By Connor Steel
SURREY CRICKET cemented their place as Vitality Blast 2022 favourites and extended the losing streak of Hampshire to four matches in the short-format competition, thrashing the Hawks by seventy-two runs at the Kia Oval on Thursday evening. In truth though it was a Bank Holiday masterclass from the hosts in South London who dominated with bat and ball; all-rounder Sam Curran starring in a man-of-the-match display that saw him hit 69 with the bat and add five wickets in a bowling spell that destroyed the Hampshire top order.
But it all started brilliantly for the Hawks as they won the toss and elected to field on a batting friendly pitch surface, taking their first wicket after just three balls as stand-in captain Liam Dawson spun through the low defences of fellow England international star Jason Roy for one. This very early dismissal brought Curran together with Will Jacks at the top of the order to devastating effect for the away side, who were no-doubt hoping to make further inroads into the batting line-up following three contrasting T20 losses in the last week.
Surrey simply dominated from this point as the batting pair notched up the runs in record-time, hitting five maximums apiece in a brutal onslaught; Mason Crane the main target as he went for fifty-eight runs in just three overs. But finally after a 131-run partnership off seventy three deliveries that included 19 boundaries overall, Jacks’ innings of sixty-four was ended as his shot was caught by a diving Crane at wide-mid-on to become Dawson’s second wicket. Moments later the same combination removed the dangerous looking Curran for 69 from thirty-eight balls with an easier catch taken to leave Surrey on 136-3 off thirteen overs.
Not that this double wicket over turned the tide as it only brought Sunil Narine to the crease, who added fifty-two runs off just 23 deliveries; a showcase of spectacular hitting that featured five fours and 4 big sixes in twenty-eight minutes of batting. Backed up by Laurie Evans (25*) he smashed the hosts pass two hundred runs before his fun was ended by Chris Wood; Keiron Pollard adding twelve runs from the last 7 balls as Surrey finished on 228-4 to set their visitors a record-breaking target to win from their allocated twenty overs.
Although Hampshire’s reply started badly as Nick Gubbins was acrobatically caught in the covers by Keiron Pollard to become Reece Topley’s first victim, the visitors were offered a glimmer of hope from a big-hitting partnership between Ben McDermott and Tom Prest; the latter replacing the ill captain James Vince at three. The pair made fifty-three runs off 23 balls including nine boundaries as Hampshire passed the half century, only for Curran to state his mark gain in a simply outstanding over to all-but seal a massive home victory.
The English seamer first saw Prest bowled for 23 runs as he swung across the line in the fifth over, quickly sending McDermott for twenty-nine with the Big Bash star clipping to mid off. And with the final delivery of his first six balls, he had Aneurin Donald out edging to mid off as Hampshire were left on 56-4. It worsened for the Hawks as Daniel Worrall had Joe Weatherly caught for five whilst Narine ended a short innings for Ross Whitely (4); Jordan adding the 7th wicket as he had Dawson (10) caught by Roy at the start of the 11th over.
James Fuller then went into damage limitation mode as he smashed two fours and three sixes in his 43 during the middle over before he became Curran’s fifth victim in the seventeenth over; the English bowler removing his partner twenty-four balls earlier as Hampshire were stranded on 134-9. Ten minutes later a crushing Surrey victory was confirmed under the floodlights following a partnership between Wood (17) and Crane (11) as the latter looped a Topley delivery to the safe hands of an incoming fielder to end the innings.
The two points mean that Surrey move to 1st in the South Group, whilst Hampshire’s quarter final hopes look over even at this early stage following for straight defeats alongside a dreadful net-run rate. The Hawks will look to register their first win in the Vitality Blast on Saturday evening when they host the Sussex Sharks in Southampton, before travelling to play Middlesex three days later on Tuesday afternoon looking to avenge their narrow defeat last Friday that started this poor run after pre-competition excitement of title glories.
PICTURED BY BEN HOSKINS: Curran celebrates his 5th wicket for Surrey against Hampshire on Thursday.