Essex collapse hands Surrey a thrilling first FL t20 win
Friends Life t20, The Oval
Surrey 128-8 (20 ov) beat Essex 111-9 (20 ov) by 17 runs
Off-spinner Gareth Batty took three wickets as Surrey benefited from an Essex collapse to win a low-scoring opening group match in the FL t20.
Surrey were restricted to 128-8 from their 20 overs, with Graham Napier (3-16) the pick of the Essex bowlers.
Essex reached 54-1 in reply but lost their next seven wickets for 34 runs.
Tim Phillips (16no) bravely took on the run chase but Batty (3-20) saw Surrey home as Essex finished on 111-9, 18 runs short of their victory target.
Napier did the early damage in the Surrey innings, removing skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown and Zander de Bruyn in successive balls in his first over.
Gary Wilson (33) and Jason Roy (22) led the fightback, but they were the only batsmen to pass 20 for the hosts.
England international Ravi Bopara (28) and Mark Pettini (20) gave Essex the perfect start and it seemed as though they would cruise to victory at the Oval.
But their progress was checked by Batty, who removed Bopara, Owais Shah and James Franklin.
Jade Dernbach and Dirk Nannes kept things tight at the end of the innings, as the Essex tail battled in vain to reach their victory target of 129.
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Essex all-rounder Graham Napier told BBC Essex:
"Any time you come to The Oval and bowl a team out for 129, you think you've got a good chance of winning the game.
"At the half-way stage we were confident, but you've still got to go and score the runs and we didn't manage to do that.
"We lost wickets in the middle of the innings and put pressure upon ourselves.
"We've got to work out a way to play in the middle of the game and finish off games."