An unbroken third wicket partnership of 97 between Arun Harinath and Ricky Ponting saw Surrey close the 3rd day against Nottinghamshire on 186-2. The visitors were all out for 410 in their first innings and the efforts of Jade Dernbach with the ball and then Harinath (69*) and Ponting (41*) forced Surrey back into the game.
The morning began with Samit Patel unbeaten on 87 and he moved to a deserved century after half an hour of play with a handsome drive to the cover boundary off Dernbach from his 184th delivery.
Dernbach was steaming in from the Pavilion End and he treated Patel to a barrage of short deliveries from around the wicket. And the tactic worked as Patel aborted an attempted pull shot on 110 and the ball looped to Viram Solanki at leg gully.
And Nottinghamshire were 286-8 when Dernbach had Graeme White caught behind by Steven Davies without scoring. Ajmal Shahzad had played studiously adding just one run in the first hour of play and he suddenly danced down the pitch and struck Zafar Ansari for six. But three balls later Shahzad presented Ansari with a return catch and departed for 17.
Dernbach then brought the Nottinghamshire innings to an end on 410 when he had Andre Adams caught by Ricky Ponting at deep midwicket as the visitors finished with a first innings lead of 212.
Surrey had 25 minutes to bat until lunch but Rory Burns began in positive fashion with three boundaries off Harry Gurney and together with Harinath they guided Surrey to the break with the scoreboard reading 28-0.
After lunch the Surrey pair played solidly with Burns playing a couple of handsome shots off Andre Adams through the legside and Harinath driving pleasantly through the covers. They both showed excellent technique against the spin of Patel as the score moved past fifty and the afternoon session began to take shape.
Burns had moved onto 38 when he pushed forward to Adams but the ball squeezed through his defensive shot and uprooted his off stump to leave Surrey 70-1. Vikram Solanki came to the middle and was watchful but then freed his shoulders when he deposited Patel into the OCS Stand for six.
But with the score on 89 a dreadful mix up saw Solanki run out by Steven Mullaney for 11 and his dismissal brought Ponting to the crease for the final time in First Class cricket. Ponting got off the mark with a single into the legside and Harinath continued to play solidly as Surrey went to tea on 96-2.
After tea Ponting found the boundary for the first time with a lovely shot through the covers and when he pushed Patel for a single to reach 19 he moved to 24,000 First Class runs.
At the other end Harinath was continuing to play very well as he used his feet to Graeme White and put him over long on for six. He then repeated the shot into the Pavilion and next delivery laid back and cut White for four to move to an excellent fifty from 130 deliveries.
Together Harinath and Ponting moved Surrey through the final session of the day, reducing the deficit and finding an answer to whatever question the Nottinghamshire bowlers asked of them. They complimented each other perfectly and took Surrey to the close of play with Harinath unbeaten on 6 9 and Ponting 41* with the deficit standing at just 26 runs.
A fascinating final day is in prospect at the Kia Oval and with a perfect weather forecast a positive result is still a real possibility.