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Vitality Blast; Essex succumb to Surrey

PUBLISHED: 17:22 05 August 2018

Nic Maddinson in batting action for Surrey as Adam Wheater looks on from behind the stumps during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018

Nic Maddinson in batting action for Surrey as Adam Wheater looks on from behind the stumps during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018

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Rikki Clarke hammered two successive sixes, his third and fourth in an unbeaten 37, to carry Surrey to a comfortable six-wicket win over Essex in the Vitality Blast at Chelmsford.

Essex batsmen Paul Walter and Varun Chopra during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018Essex batsmen Paul Walter and Varun Chopra during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018

Surrey recorded their fifth T20 win in seven games, reaching their target of 158 with 21 balls to spare. The game finished in a rush as the fifth-wicket stand of 64 in six overs between Nic Maddison and Clarke caned 33 runs from the last nine deliveries.

Maddison, who came in at the end of the first over, was left stranded on 49 from 41 balls as Surrey inflicted Essex’s third big defeat in four days without the need of another large contribution from either Jason Roy or Aaron Finch.

Roy had helped Aaron Finch put on a Surrey record 194 opening stand against Middlesex on Friday. But the England batsman was on his way back to the Chelmsford pavilion without facing a ball, stumped off a wide from Ashar Zaidi.

Finch, who had scored 462 runs in the competition this season at an average of 154, followed soon after for a paltry 16. He was caught inches off the ground by a diving Michael Pepper, racing in from the midwicket boundary. Pepper, it should be noted. is normally the 2nd XI wicketkeeper.

Ravi Bopara in batting action for Essex as Ben Foakes looks on from behind the stumps during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018Ravi Bopara in batting action for Essex as Ben Foakes looks on from behind the stumps during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018

Adam Zampa, the Australian spinner, had evidently studied Zaidi’s modus operandi as he, too, claimed the wicket of Ben Foakes to a ball wide outside leg stump that ended with Adam Wheater whipping off the bails again. Foakes’s 12-ball 26 included four fours and a six.

Ollie Pope marked his first England Test call with 24 from 13 balls, including three fours and a six over square leg, before picking out Paul Walter on the ropes at mid-wicket. It gave Zaidi his second wicket in only his second outing of the campaign.

All the time, Maddinson held up the other end, but broke out of his patience by effortlessly lifting Simon Harmer for six over mid-wicket, and later drove Zaidi for a one-bounce four over Ryan ten Doeschate’s head at long leg.

The Essex captain, making a rare bowling appearance, went for two sixes in an over from Clarke as Surrey closed in on their target of 158.

Michael Pepper in batting action for Essex during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018Michael Pepper in batting action for Essex during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018

The first cleared long-leg, the second swung over mi-dwicket. Zampa then went for the two in the row over mid-wicket that settled the game.

Put in, Essex started slowly and only reached 157 because Zaidi and Pepper creamed 23 off the final over bowled by Tom Curran.

Before that belated onslaught, the Eagles had posted just 31 at the end of the sixth powerplay over, 66 at halfway, and not entering three figures until over 15. Wheater went at the start of the third over, caught off a skier at short extra cover off Jade Denbach. Chopra put on 40 in six overs with Walter until the left-hander almost trapped a ball from Gareth Batty almost in front of him and failed to beat Foakes’s throw to the other end to depart for 17.

Ten Doesechate followed Wheater’s example and holed out to mid-on. Chopra and Bopara both went after Gareth Batty, taking sixes off the spinner. Chopra’s third fifty of the season came off 36 balls, with five fours and that six over long leg.

Ashar Zaidi hits out for Essex during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018Ashar Zaidi hits out for Essex during Essex Eagles vs Surrey, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 5th August 2018

But Batty made amends by taking a sharp catch at short third man when Chopra cut hard and uppishily. Bopara‘s attempt to up the tempo ended when he found Maddinson on the boundary at long leg. That brought in Zaidi.

Before the start of the final over, the Eagles were 134-5. Last season the senior Curran brother bowled a sensational death over that stopped Essex two runs short when they only required 10 to win. This year he went for 23, by 13 runs the most expensive of the innings, with three fours and a six from a free-hit taking Essex to an unlikely 157-5.

Zaidi, finished with 24 from eight balls, and followed that with 2-27 in Surrey’s reply. In comparison, Pepper’s admirable 26 took 25 balls.

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