Essex all over winless Surrey

Surrey are still without a win in this season's Benson & Hedges Cup after they slumped to a four-wicket defeat by Essex at Chelmsford.The visitors failed to build on a solid start as Ronnie Irani's four wickets restricted them to 223 all out from 49.

Surrey are still without a win in this season's Benson & Hedges Cup after they slumped to a four-wicket defeat by Essex at Chelmsford.

The visitors failed to build on a solid start as Ronnie Irani's four wickets restricted them to 223 all out from 49.2 overs.

And Andy Flower's impressive 98 then guided the home side to their target with 4.4 overs to spare to secure Essex's second win of this year's competition.

After being put in to bat, Surrey were soon on top as openers Mark Butcher and Alec Stewart quickly set about the Essex attack, with Butcher in particular soon timing the ball nicely.


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The opening bowling attack of Irani and Ashley Cowan appeared to have little answer to the England team-mates, with Cowan being hit to the boundary three times in the ninth over.

The pair added 61 before the breakthrough finally came in the 12th over when Stewart was caught by Irani at midwicket off the bowling of Jon Dakin for 20.

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Butcher continued his free-scoring and smashed 62 off 60 balls to take his side into three figures before lobbing a catch back to left-arm spinner Paul Grayson in the 21st over.

That was the signal for Irani to make his mark as the all-rounder removed dangermen Ali Brown (seven) and Nadeem Shahid (nought) in the space of three balls.

Mark Ramprakash attempted to steady the ship but received little support as wickets continued to fall at regular intervals.

The England batsman made an unbeaten 70 but ran out of partners, with only Azhar Mahmood (19) and Ian Salisbury (16) threatening to frustrate the Essex bowlers.

Irani returned to finish off the tail and end with four for 38 off 9.2 overs.

Surrey's bid to defend their total was given an early boost when John Stephenson drove the fourth ball of the first over to Shahid at mid-off without troubling the scorers.

Martin Bicknell then took his second wicket when Darren Robinson edged a catch to Stewart behind the stumps to leave the hosts reeling on eight for two.

But Graham Napier and Flower came together and soon put Essex back on track and forced Bicknell and Alex Tudor out of the attack.

Ed Giddins and Mahmood had little joy in stemming the runs and 69 runs were added for the third wicket before the latter dismissed Napier for 41.

Surrey failed to build on that breakthrough and another useful partnership was formed when Irani joined Flower at the crease.

Although the boundaries dried up to some extent, the pair chipped away at their target and Essex had moved onto 123 when Irani (30) edged a Bicknell delivery to Stewart.

Once again though, the visitors could not capitalise on the arrival of a new batsman and another 62 runs were added for the fifth wicket before Aftab Habib (27) fell to Tudor.

With Flower at the crease Essex always looked in control and a six off Tudor took the Zimbabwe star to within two runs of a deserved century.

Tudor gained revenge with his next delivery when Flower was caught at extra cover but the damage had already been done and only four more runs were needed when he departed, with Grayson hitting the winning run shortly after.

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