Words by Alex Smith, ECB Reporters Network
Kieron Pollard bashed 34 as Surrey secured a four-wicket Vitality Blast victory over Hampshire Hawks to maintain their unbeaten start to the season across both formats.
Trinidadian Pollard had previously been restricted to short cameos, with a top score of 23, in his first five matches for Surrey.
But after Jamie Smith and Laurie Evans had put a modest chase of 152 in order, the West Indian clubbed two sixes and three fours off 22 balls in front of hundreds of All Star and Dynamo participants to keep Surrey glued to the top of the South Group.
Hampshire, who had James Fuller smash a late unbeaten 39 and saw Liam Dawson take two for 22, end their five-match winning streak but remain in the quarter-final hunt.
Surrey stuck Hawks in on a quick and bouncy pitch, and watched the hosts build a fine foundation in the powerplay by reaching 41 for one. Ben McDermott had fallen and James Vince was dropped twice on five and 19, but value was gifted when the gaps were found.
Vince, on the back of a sublime century on Friday night, overtook Chris Lynn at the top of the Blast run charts thanks to six boundaries in his 30 – only for Rilee Rossouw to later overtake both of them.
The innings platform was shattered as Tom Prest and Vince both fell to Jamie Overton, who will hoping to make his Test debut at the end of the week in the following over.
The middle overs belonged to the visitors, despite Joe Weatherley’s two heaves over the shorter legside boundary. But he, Toby Albert and Ross Whiteley – the latter to a stunning Chris Jordan caught and bowled – all departed to restrict Hawks to 94 for six with just under six overs to go.
James Fuller, aided by Dawson’s scampering, put on 52 runs to give themselves something to bowl at. Fuller’s 39 included three fours, a six over long on and a huge hoick to clear the longest part of the boundary.
Surrey’s powerplay mimicked Hampshire’s. They lost Will Jacks when a leading edge landed on backward point Mason Crane’s lap, but Smith played the Vince role with some lovely shot making.
The wicketkeeper-batter went up and over the off-side field three times in five boundaries but was caught behind off Dawson in the seventh over to end a 47-run combination with Evans. Sunil Narine came and went in a pinch-hitting flash.
Evans has accumulated rather than swatted runs, with the exception of dispatching Crane over the boundary, and fell for 29 when he drove to cover.
Pollard got motoring on his 598th T20 appearance with two breath-taking sixes off Crane – the first nailed over cover and point and the second a one-handed lift over extra cover.
He got his side to within 22 runs of victory before Weatherley pulled off a special diving catch on the square boundary. Jamie Overton was stumped in the followed over as Surrey threatened to come unstuck.
But after Jordan pulled a six with the last ball of the penultimate, Chris Wood’s wide ended the contest with five balls to spare.