Craig Meschede pounces as Somerset strive to subdue Surrey
Craig Meschede claimed three wickets as Somerset took early control of the County Championship relegation battle against Surrey at Taunton.
Having won the toss, the visitors could make only 195 for eight before bad light wiped out the last 15 overs of the day. Gareth Batty top-scored with 39, while Meschede returned three for 37 from 17 overs.
There were two wickets each for Alfonso Thomas and Piyush Chawla and it took a battling eighth-wicket stand of 64 between Batty and Stewart Meaker (30 not out) to put Surrey in sight of a desperately needed batting point.
Division One’s bottom club gave a Championship debut to 18-year-old Dominic Sibley, who contributed ten to an opening stand of 31 with Rory Burns before falling lbw on the back foot to Meschede in the 15th over.
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Two more wickets fell without addition as Hashim Amla unluckily nicked a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter to depart for a duck in Meschede’s next over and Burns, on 21, was also caught behind fending at a delivery from Thomas.
Surrey went into defensive mode and had scored only 61 by the final over before lunch, which saw Chawla pin Vikram Solanki leg before for 14 with a quicker ball to send Somerset’s players off with a spring in their step.
It got better for the home side in the afternoon session when their former player Zander de Bruyn was lbw to Meschede pushing half forward, having made 30, to make it 81 for five.
The scoring virtually dried up as Zafar Ansari took 42 balls to get off the mark. It was the application Surrey needed, but having made only eight, he was caught behind off Peter Trego, Kieswetter diving alertly to his left as he had done to dismiss Burns.
Surrey’s run-rate had dipped below two an over and at tea they were 124 for six off 64 overs.
Their woes continued into the final session as, with six runs added, Steve Davies, on 38, was snapped up by Alex Barrow at short-leg off Chawla.
Davies had looked more assured than most of his colleagues, but his departure brought the brightest spell of the day for Surrey as Batty and Meaker launched a counter attack.
With the second new ball approaching, both were prepared to take risks. Batty, roundly booed by Somerset supporters as he walked out following the Twenty20 quarter-final altercation with Peter Trego that earned him a ban, produced the most attacking batting of the day.
He hit a six off Chawla and five fours before attempting to pull a short ball from Thomas in the 80th over and giving a comfortable catch to Chris Jones at deep mid-wicket.
Somerset took the new ball in the next over, but with only a run added the umpires decided it had become too gloomy and the day reached a premature conclusion.