Zafar Ansari took four wickets for two runs in 13 balls in early afternoon to speed Surrey to their first win of the Specsavers County Championship season, by 228 runs, against Nottinghamshire at the Kia Oval – and lift them off the bottom of the Division One table.
Set 386 to win in 96 overs by Surrey’s overnight declaration at 244 for 5, Nottinghamshire were shot out for 157 by 2.50pm with left-arm spinner Ansari finishing with overall figures of 6 for 36 from 11.3 overs.
Ansari’s dramatic initial spell brought him the scalps of Jake Libby, Riki Wessels, Samit Patel and Brendan Taylor, who made a fine 68, as Nottinghamshire disintegrated from 119 for 2 to 124 for 6 in the space of five overs.
Gareth Batty had earlier removed Michael Lumb for 11 with his fourth ball, caught at slip from one that turned away from the left-hander, following Ravi Rampaul’s third over strike when he produced a perfect leg-cutter to bowl Steven Mullaney for 5.
That left Notts distinctly wobbly at 29 for 2 early on but Taylor, joining opener Libby, counter-attacked with controlled aggression in an impressive effort. The Zimbabwean reached his run-a-ball fifty in the last over of the morning session, slashing Rampaul away to third man for his eighth four.
There was also a six for Taylor, lofted with sweet timing to long on off Batty, as he dominated a partnership of 90 in 25 overs with Libby, who had scored 33 when he became Ansari’s first victim.
Libby had got away with a mishit drive at the previous ball, with Tom Curran failing to hold a difficult catch over his left shoulder as he ran back from cover to try to take the swirling chance, but then a shorter ball popped and turned and the batsman could only steer it tamely to backward point.
The next ball, to Wessels, bounced and turned to take the edge on its way into keeper Ben Foakes’ gloves, and although Patel kept out the hat-trick ball he was soon gone for 2, lifting a loose drive to short extra cover.
Taylor, who had faced 79 balls, hitting ten fours in addition to his six, was then drawn well forward by Ansari and smartly stumped by Foakes when he was beaten by the turn and lifted his back foot.
Stuart Meaker continued the Notts slide by having Dan Christian caught acrobatically down the legside by Foakes for 11, and then Brett Hutton well held by Curran running back from square leg for 8 as he top-edged a pull.
The end came quickly with Ansari taking the last two wickets in three balls, Jake Ball leg-before for 1 and last man Harry Gurney caught in the covers by Batty attempting a big hit.
Afterwards, the nature of Surrey’s celebrations showed just how much the victory means to them. Holding up the first division when this game began, after four defeats and three draws from their first seven championship fixtures, they have endured a catalogue of injuries to leading bowlers and have also been on the wrong end of several close finishes.
The win was also a true team effort. Ansari might have been the final day hero but almost everyone chipped in with the bat and all the bowlers contributed to bowling out Notts twice with off spinner Batty, the captain, taking 4 for 23 in Notts’ first innings capitulation to 182 all out.