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Essex edged out in tense T20 opener

PUBLISHED: 07:25 08 July 2017 | UPDATED: 07:25 08 July 2017

Surrey's Dominic Sibley hits out during the NatWest T20 Blast match against Essex at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA)

Surrey's Dominic Sibley hits out during the NatWest T20 Blast match against Essex at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Surrey (188-8) beat Essex (186-6) by two runs

Essex's Ravi Bopara (right) celebrates taking the wicket of Surrey's Ollie Pope during the NatWest T20 Blast match at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA) Essex's Ravi Bopara (right) celebrates taking the wicket of Surrey's Ollie Pope during the NatWest T20 Blast match at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA)

Tom Curran kept his head in the final over to carry Surrey to a sensational two-run victory over Essex in the opening NatWest T20 Blast game of the season at Chelmsford.

With Essex requiring 10 off the last six balls, and six wickets in hand, Curran claimed the key wickets of Ravi Bopara and Ashar Zaidi to turn defeat into a memorable victory.

Bopara’s dismissal off the second ball of the over ended a 46-ball 75, with five sixes, that looked to have put Essex in the driving seat.

Earlier Dominic Sibley thumped four sixes in a swashbuckling 61 that enabled Surrey to post a challenging total of 188 after being put in to bat.

Essex's Paul Walter in bowling action against Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast match at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA) Essex's Paul Walter in bowling action against Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast match at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA)

However, it had looked as though sixes from successive deliveries bowled by Jade Dernbach in the penultimate over by Bopara – one straight, the other over long leg – meant Essex needed less than two runs a ball from the final over.

The first ball went for two, but Tom Curran found the extra pace to beat Bopara from the next. With five required off two balls, Curran added the scalp of Ashar Zaidi, bowled to a full-length ball. The boundary required from the final ball was beyond James Foster.

Essex had reached 25 in the third over when Varun Chopra left alone a delivery from Tom Curran that pitched outside off stump and hit middle and leg.

Dan Lawrence, who had hit Sam Curran straight for six, followed soon after when he swished inelegantly at the younger Curran and was caught behind for 13.

Tom Westley and Bopara put on 45 for the third wicket in six overs. But Westley was undone by Scott Borthwick’s first ball, which spun in and bowled him for 23. He had earlier edged Ravi Rampaul for six backward of square and then carted Sibley over cow corner for a second maximum.

Bopara hit Jade Dernbach for a straight six, pulled Rampaul for a second and hooked Borthwick for a third as Essex accelerated. Rampaul went for 16 from one over, Borthwick for 14 the next as Bopara and ten Doeschate made hay.

Bopara scrambled a single into the offside to reach a 43-ball fifty, but the partnership was broken by Sam Curran who trapped ten Doeschate lbw on the front foot. Essex still needed 52 from 26 balls, and 25 from the last two overs. It proved just too many.

Surrey lost Jason Roy to the fourth ball of the game, lbw to one from Mohammad Amir that swung late, and wickets followed in quick succession throughout, bar a sixth-wicket stand of 55 between Sibley and Sam Curran.

Replacing Amir, two of Paul Walter’s first four deliveries were wayward and signalled as wides, but his third legitimate ball arrowed past Mark Stoneman’s bat and took out middle and leg stumps.

Aaron Finch had already laid into Jamie Porter with a four through mid-wicket and a six over long leg from successive balls, and was similarly severe on Zaidi with a four chipped to deep extra cover followed by another six into the second tier of the stand at long leg.

But Zaidi had the last word in his first over, tempting Rory Burns into a reverse sweep and bowling him.

Finch reached his fifty from 23 balls with his third six, slog-pulling Zaidi high over mid-wicket. But four balls later, in trying to work Bopara down to third man, the Australian top-edged behind for 56.

Bopara had a second wicket in his third over when Ollie Pope pulled him to the mid-wicket boundary where Amir leapt to catch. Surrey had lost half their batting for 86 inside 11 overs.

The fifty partnership for the sixth wicket came off 28 balls, before Curran on 25 gave himself room against Walter and lost his leg stump.

Sibley lost the other Curran, Tom, to an inswinger from ten Doeschate’s first ball but reached a valiant half-century from 35 balls with his fourth six.

He departed for 61 when he was run out off the last ball as Borthwick had his stumps shattered from a free-hit off Walter, but James Foster had a stump out of the ground before Sibley made his ground.

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