Surrey will be thanking their experienced former Sri Lankan international Kumar Sangakkara for digging them out of self-destruct mode, as they tripped over the line with a last ball victory against Norhamptonshire.
The visitors seemed to be cruising along to their target of 277 before an increasing run rate and loss of quick wickets caused panic in the Surrey ranks. Yet Sangakkara drew on all of his experience to bat through almost the entirety of the innings to hit the winning runs off the final ball with just one wicket remaining, finishing on an incredible 130 not out.
Steelbacks post modest total despite Kleinveldt heroics
Northamptonshire went into the game with their tails up following their qualification for Twenty20 Finals day last week, before putting themselves under pressure early on. Richard Levi, Ben Duckett and Rob Keogh all fell cheaply to poor shots, the latter two after being dropped just moments before. Credit must be given to Surrey captain Gareth Batty who masterminded two of the catches with some excellent fielding adjustments.
At 73-3 the Steelbacks were crying out for a partnership and Josh Cobb did just that alongside Alex Wakely, despite immense pressure from Stuart Meaker. The pair were just beginning to accelerate at the midway point of the innings when Cobb was bowled by Tom Curran for 66.
The captain was joined by Twenty20 quarter-final hero Adam Rossington, with their partnership following a similar trend to the previous one. Just as the pair began to settle, a moment of class from Sam Curran, fresh from picking up his A-Levels, nipped the ball back to bowl Wakely for 45.
The wicket of Wakely was the catalyst for a Northamptonshire collapse as they fell from 177-4 to 227-9. Surrey were already beginning to see the semi-finals before Rory Kleinveldt decided to have a bit of fun. The South African smashed 76 not out before number 11 Azharullah was dismissed with an over to spare.
Surrey make their chase hard work
Chasing 277 to win, Surrey got off to a dismal start when Steve Davies was bowled by Richard Gleeson for a duck. Though Northamptonshire were left facing two class acts in Jason Roy and Kumar Sangakkara who began to put Surrey in fall control. The pair made 86 and were beginning to take Surrey towards an easy win when Azharullah bowled the England international for 42, before spinner Graeme White quickly dismissed Rory Burns.
Surrey responded by slowing the pace right down as Wakely put faith in his spin bowlers. Cobb, White and Keogh were only going for about four runs an over, as main bowler Gleeson picked up an injury. Contributions from Ben Foakes and Sam Curran took the visitors to 207-4 before Surrey hit the self-destruct button.
The run rate did not increase and Surrey began losing wickets at regular intervals. All of sudden they found themselves 250-9, requiring 27 from 14 balls against at side with their tails up. Number 11 Jade Dernbach played a couple of positive shots, whilst Sangakkara started to come out of his shell leaving them with 12 to win off the last over. An incredible scoop shot from the Sri Lankan wrestled the advantage back in the favour of Surrey, before he hit a four off the final ball to scrape victory for the away side in an incredible contest.