Nick Kimber’s magnificent assault on the Warwickshire bowling earned Surrey a tie in a Royal London Cup thriller at the Kia Oval.
The 21-year-old all-rounder cracked six sixes in hammering 84 in a dramatic bid to snatch what seemed certain victory from the Bears as the hosts – who had entered the final ten overs needing 101 – seemed poised to steal the most unlikely of wins.
Replying to a challenging 293 for five, the much-depleted side looked set for a trouncing at 79 for four but benefited from the rebuilding work of Josh Blake (40) and Nico Reifer (53), before being back in trouble at 184 for seven in the 39th.
Kimber refused to concede defeat, taking three sixes off one over from Rob Yates and making his highest List A score, which only ended when he was bowled by Indian left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya.
Matt Dunn took up the fight, with only last man Yousef Majid for company, hitting 34 in 19 balls to bring the scores level going into the final over. But he was bowled by a fine yorker from Liam Norwell to tie the match.
A vastly more experienced Warwickshire side had been in their own tight spot earlier at 89 for three yet Michael Burgess (93) and Pandya (74) hammered 160 from 25 overs, a major bonus for Surrey being the return to form of off-spinner Amar Virdi, whose ten overs yielded one for 36 and could easily have brought much more reward.
That result left Surrey placed fifth out of nine in Group A of a competition which they have entered with a skeleton side, much of their squad called away by the demands of international calls, the high profile Hundred competition and injuries.
Surrey included four debutants at List A level when beaten by Leicestershire at Guildford in the opening game.
Losing two of their senior players – Ryan Patel (nought) and Cameron Steel (nine) – to South African international Beuran Hendricks (four for 39) early on meant posting a competitive total was always likely to be difficult, despite acting captain Ben Geddes (73) and Blake (44) adding 105 for the third wicket.
Once they were parted the biggest contribution came from Reifer, who batted sensibly with a crumbling tail in making 45 as his side reached 246 for eight.
Woodbridge Road’s short boundaries was always likely to make that score hard to defend and Leicestershire were guided to an eight-wicket victory with ten overs to spare by Nick Welch. He cracked 16 fours and a six to finish with 127 not out, adding an unbroken 141 with Wiaan Mulder (71 not out) to secure victory by seven wickets.
Two days later, though, came a fine turnaround when Durham were hammered by nine wickets at Gosforth.
Surrey’s makeshift attack were grateful for two early breakthroughs from fit-again Dunn after England opener Alex Lees had dragged on a delivery from the impressive Tom Lawes. The pressure was maintained by paceman Conor McKerr (two for 19) and young left-arm spinner Majid, who claimed two for 41. Kimber chipped in with a brace of victims, the home side being grateful to Liam Trevaskis (55) to make 181 all out.
Despite losing Geddes for 35, Surrey surged to a nine-wicket success as Patel (67 not out) and Steel (68) put on 128 as Surrey knocked off the runs in 29 overs.