Ravichandran Ashwin stepped up his preparations for India’s Test series against England by taking 6-27 as Surrey’s LV= Insurance County Championship match against Somerset ended in a final-day draw.
Ashwin, making a one-off appearance for Surrey, helped skittle Somerset for just 69 in their second innings, with left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty (4-20) picking up the other wickets on a Kia Oval pitch offering plenty of help to the slower bowlers.
It left Surrey needing 259 to win in 57 overs; England’s Jack Leach followed up his 6-43 in Surrey’s first innings with another wicket, but the hosts safely reached 106-4 when the teams shook hands for a draw at 5pm, with Jamie Smith 46 not out.
- Surrey vs Somerset scorecard
Somerset had already confirmed their place in Division One for the remainder of the competition, while Surrey will slot into Division Two.
Joining Somerset in the top-tier will be Hampshire and Warwickshire as they confirmed their spots in Division One on the final day of their respective matches with Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
Hampshire qualified with a seven-wicket win over Gloucestershire in their Group 2 clash at Cheltenham.
- Gloucestershire vs Hampshire scorecard
🙌 HAMPSHIRE WIN! 🙌
It's all over here at Cheltenham with Nick Gubbins striking the winnings runs to secure a fantastic 7-wicket @CountyChamp victory and seal a place in Division One! 😁🏆 pic.twitter.com/Fn7MnlBWyr
They were made to work for it as Tom Lace’s 118 led 126 overs of second-innings resistance before Gloucestershire were eventually bowled out for 310, leaving Hampshire with a target of just 54 to chase after tea.
Defeat ended Gloucestershire’s dreams of a maiden Championship title as they missed out on a top two finish despite winning five matches – only Yorkshire have won as many. Three heavy defeats from their final four games – taking a total of just six points from those losses – ultimately cost them.
As for Warwickshire, they secured the draw they needed from their final Group 1 game against Worcestershire to book a spot in Division One.
- Worcestershire vs Warwickshire scorecard
𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀 𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗳𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗗𝗜𝗩𝗜𝗦𝗜𝗢𝗡 𝗢𝗡𝗘! 🙌
The Bears draw at New Road ensures an opportunity to lift the title. 🏆
Yes lads!! 🙌
🐻#YouBears | #WORvWAR pic.twitter.com/JUuuYvlWZC
Half centuries from Rob Yates (88) and first-innings century-maker Pieter Malan (77no) saw the Bears comfortably overturn a first-innings deficit of 52 and reach 215-2 in their second dig before the two sides shook hands on a stalemate.
Only 21 wickets fell in four days on the flattest of pitches and Worcestershire’s hope that the wicket would turn – they played three spinners in Ish Sodhi, Josh Baker and Brett D’Oliveira – proved to be unfounded.
Worcestershire will now have to contend with a place in Division Three after drawing their opening five games and winning only one.
Nottinghamshire clinched top spot in Group 1 as they played out a draw with Durham on day four of their match at Emirates Riverside.
- Durham vs Nottinghamshire scorecard
Notts had already guaranteed their spot in the new Division One for the second half of the season courtesy of bonus points gained in the contest, but this result now sees them enter as Group 1 champs.
Durham were set a target of 381 to chase on the final day after bowling Notts out for 217 in their second innings – Scott Borthwick claiming 4-32.
The hosts’ hopes of forcing a victory were slim to say the least, and they opted to bat out the day for the draw, finishing on 188-4. They will be participating in Division Two in the next phase of the competition.
In Group Two, Middlesex claimed just a second County Championship win of the season against Leicestershire at Merchant Taylors’ School, with acting captain Tim Murtagh leading the way.
- Middlesex vs Leicestershire scorecard
The 39-year-old veteran took 4-36 before limping away from the action just prior to the 121-run win being secured, Leicestershire coming up well short in their pursuit of 293 – despite 52 from Josh Inglis.
James Harris weighed in with 3-50 as Leicestershire were bundled out for 171, this after Stephen Eskinazi had made 66 in the hosts’ second innings of 196.
Both sides will play in Division Three when the Championship resumes.
In Group Three, Glamorgan were frustrated by Northamptonshire‘s middle order as the two teams shared a draw in Cardiff.
- Glamorgan vs Northamptonshire scorecard
The home side declared on their overnight score of 462-4 for a first-innings lead of 247 runs and, as Northamptonshire stuttered to 52-3 inside their opening 11 overs, Glamorgan were firm favourites for victory.
Such a win would have been remarkable given the length of time lost to rain over the first two days, but an unbeaten 71 from Rob Keogh – whose innings came in two parts after he retired on 50 to attend his late grandmother’s funeral service online – steadied the Northants innings and Harry Gouldstone’s 67 not out made the game safe.
The two teams will compete in Division Two when the County Championship season resumes on August Bank Holiday Monday.
Elsewhere, Kent clung on for a draw in their match with Sussex at Canterbury after an engrossing final day’s play.
- Kent vs Sussex scorecard
Jack Carson took 3-87 and Sean Hunt 2-48 for Sussex, but despite a cluster of wickets in the final hour, Sussex were unable to polish off Kent’s tail, with the home side finishing on 257-7 – Hastings-born Harry Finch hitting 115 against his home county
Sussex had earlier declared on 332-4, setting Kent a target of 349 to win. The home side’s reply got off to a desperate start when Ollie Robinson had Joe Gordon caught behind for a duck in the first over, but Finch anchored the innings and though he was one of a cluster of late wickets to fall, Kent clung on for a draw.
The result leaves Sussex bottom of Group Three while Kent are fifth, meaning both sides will compete in the third tier for the remainder of the campaign.
Finally, in the Roses clash between Yorkshire and Lancashire at Emerald Headingley, no play was possible on the final day due to a wet outfield.
Play had also been suspended on day three after Yorkshire’s Dominic Leech suffered a nasty leg injury on the offending outfield deemed “unfit and unsafe”.
Both teams will resume the season in Division One, having finished first and second in Group Three.
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