Surrey face anxious wait over possible ball change charge as Hassan Azad ton seals draw for Leicestershire

Leicestershire 375 (Evans 138, Hill 70, Azad 55) and 295 for 3 (Azad 144*, Hill 69*) drew with Surrey 672 for 8 declared (Pope 245, Smith 123, Clark 61*)

An unbeaten rearguard hundred from Hassan Azad ensured Leicestershire could head back up the M1 with a draw after four days of hard graft at The Oval, as Surrey toiled with little success on a flat last-day pitch that offered very little for spinners and even less for seamers throughout.

There were moments on the final day that hinted at a tight finish as the sun went down, not least when Jordan Clark removed Sam Evans and Harry Dearden with successive deliveries before lunch following a hostile short-ball barrage in the first hour. But just as Surrey had made the breakthrough and got the ball reversing, umpires Graham Lloyd and Paul Pollard decided that they had spotted something they didn’t like and decided to replace it; Rory Burns’ frustration was evident.

Vikram Solanki, Surrey’s head coach, said at the close that they were waiting to find out from Steve Davis, the match referee, whether or not a charge of attempting to change the condition of the ball would be levelled – though no penalty runs were awarded. “The discussions with the umpires and the match referee is ongoing,” Solanki said. “There’s no getting away from the fact we were frustrated, given that we were able to get a breakthrough and Jordan seemed to be finding some sort of rhythm. Frustrating would describe it well.”

Surrey suggested that any change to the ball’s state might have come about when Azad had hit Matt Dunn for four through the covers, with the ball clattering into the advertising hoardings. “We did speak about the possibility of getting the ball to reverse by trying to bowl some cross-seamers on an abrasive surface, trying now and again to try and bounce the ball in from the boundary if we got the opportunity to do so – all within what is permitted within the game,” Solanki said. “Perhaps it did just start to go [but] the boys were fairly adamant that nothing untoward had gone on.”

All told, only one wicket fell in the final two sessions before fists were bumped at 5.15pm, with Surrey’s quicks rendered ineffective by a placid surface. Burns regularly posted funky fields featuring four fielders at short midwicket, multiple short covers, or several square-leg catchers, and even gave himself a four-over trundle with the old ball, but Azad was an immovable presence.

Source link