Ollie Pope brought ‘Bazball’ to the LV= Insurance County Championship as he blazed an unbeaten 122 from 102 balls to lead Surrey to a crushing nine-wicket win over fellow title hopefuls Hampshire at the Kia Oval.
Dom Sibley’s unbeaten 79 played the perfect anchor role for England batter Pope, who struck three sixes and 14 fours, as the second-wicket pair put on 193 in 30 overs to help Surrey chase down a target of 243 with the minimum of fuss.
The comprehensive victory sent a powerful message to the rest of the division as the defending champions pulled away in destructive fashion in the final session of the game, with Pope finishing things off with back-to-back sixes.
Surrey’s first victory of the campaign leaves them second in the table, three points behind Warwickshire after the Bears finally ended Kent’s stubborn resistance with just six overs to spare at Edgbaston.
The hosts won by an innings and 14 runs when Kent all-rounder Joey Evison edged Hassan Ali behind to agonisingly fall for 99, having taken his side so close to salvaging an unlikely draw
Defeat was on the horizon for the visitors as they stumbled to 99 for seven after following on 295 runs behind, but opener Ben Compton (88) and 21-year-old Evison added 100 in 25 overs to give Kent hope.
Compton fell in the first over after tea but Evison and Conor McKerr then added 74 in 27 overs and Kent were within touching distance of a great escape when Will Rhodes caught McKerr at fourth slip before Evison fell victim to Ali’s outswinger.
Essex are third in the top flight, four points behind Surrey, after their captain Tom Westley stood strong for nearly three hours to deny Lancashire victory at Chelmsford.
Lancashire plundered 184 runs in a 28-over morning session, with 137 coming in the final 15 overs, as they declared on 351 for seven to set Essex a target of 340 off 68 overs.
Lower-order trio Tom Hartley (73 not out), Colin de Grandhomme (38) and Tom Bailey (25 not out) clubbed 10 sixes and 10 fours between them as they laid siege to the Essex bowling attack in pursuit of victory.
James Anderson then dismissed his former England captain Sir Alastair Cook for a duck as Essex’s reply started in dismal fashion, but Westley, with 43 off 120 balls, ensured that was just a minor setback as the hosts edged their way to 128 for four from 58 overs when the teams shook hands on the draw.
Nottinghamshire’s home return to Division One got off to the ideal start with a 165-run victory over Somerset.
Despite a two-day washout, Nottinghamshire claimed a convincing win as Somerset were bowled out for 129 midway through the afternoon session on Sunday after being set a target of 295 to win.
Dane Paterson passed 500 first-class wickets with figures of five for 46, Brett Hutton finished with nine wickets in the match and England seamer Stuart Broad claimed his first wickets of the season as Nottinghamshire bounced back from their opening-round defeat at Hampshire in style.
Fresh from his Sheffield Shield win last month, the Western Australia captain struck seven fours and a six in an unbeaten 60 as Northamptonshire reached their target of 119 just before lunch.
Leicestershire went top of Division Two after securing valuable bonus points in their rain-affected draw with Derbyshire.
No play was possible on the two previous days but centuries from captain Lewis Hill (162 not out) Colin Ackermann (114), followed by a fine spell of seam bowling by Chris Wright (four for 38), ensured Leicestershire maximised bonus points.
The hosts declared on 451 for nine before Derbyshire finished on 253 for seven in their first innings, with Brooke Guest (92) and Wayne Madsen (75) leading the way.
Durham moved up second in the table, level on 27 points with Worcestershire, after beating the Pears by 121 runs at the Riverside thanks to a five-wicket haul from Matthew Kuhnemann.
Durham captain Scott Borthwick (108 not out) scored his first first-class century in two years as he and David Bedingham (86) put on a 196-run partnership to leave the hosts in prime position for victory.
Worcestershire needed 314 to win from 70 overs after Durham declared on 254 for four but after losing two early wickets, the visitors only had a draw on their mind.
Adam Finch and Dillon Pennington’s late partnership almost denied the home side but Australia spinner Kuhnemann (five for 53) removed the latter to secure Durham’s first win of the campaign.