Daryl Mitchell led a strong Worcestershire reply with the bat in reply to Surrey’s 434 all out on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship clash at the Kia Oval.
The opening batsman hit an unbeaten 77 from 132 balls with 11 boundaries as Worcestershire reached 135-1 off 45 overs by the close.
Brett D’Oliveira (23) helped Mitchell add 48 for the first wicket and there were some encouraging signs after a challenging start to the season in the seamer-friendly conditions of the first three matches.
He square drove Sam Curran for four and then a beautifully timed stroke off his legs against Rikki Clarke brought another boundary.
But shortly before tea D’Oliveira was leg before at the start of the 18th over to a ball from Clarke which Surrey’s veteran seamer ran onto his pads.
Mitchell was then joined by Tom Fell and he ended the day unbeaten on 27 from 90 deliveries after putting on an unbroken 87 in 27 overs with the 34-year-old.
Surrey skipper Rory Burns’ 193 had been the bedrock of the Surrey innings and he batted for just eight minutes short of nine hours, hitting 18 fours from 408 balls of determined accumulation.
He eventually, was eighth out as Mitchell hung on brilliantly at slip to a fast-travelling thick-edged cut off fast bowler Charlie Morris.
Mitchell displayed wonderful reflexes to pull off a chest-high catch to his right after the ball seemed almost to have flown past him.
Burns had resumed on 137, with Surrey 278-4 overnight, and the left-hander soon saw both Ollie Pope and Sam Curran fall to
Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach’s canny seamers, snicking to second slip and bowled through the gate respectively.
Then, however, Burns was joined in a seventh wicket stand of 89 by Clarke, who made a good 38 before being leg-before to a Morris nip-backer.
Stuart Meaker (13) became 20-year-old slow left armer and debutant Ben Twohig’s maiden first-class wicket when he shouldered arms to a well-flighted ball and was bowled.
A brief last-wicket flurry from McKerr and Virdi ended when the latter steered a short ball from Josh Tongue to second slip, where Mitchell again made a sharp catch look easy.
Leach was rewarded for his sterling efforts with figures of 36-4-96-4 with Morris 29-5-85-2, Ed Barnard 25-4-73-1, Tongue 25.2-3-88-1 and Twohig 20-2-60-1 the other wicket-takers.
Twohig said: “It was great to get my maiden first-class wicket and great to make my debut at a ground like the Oval. I’ve never even been here before so it’s a brilliant experience.
“Daryl Mitchell and Tom Fell both played really well in that last session today and we just need to keep going and get as many runs as we can in our first innings.”