Mahmood career-best boost for Lancs
A career-best 4-50 by Saqid Mahmood was the highlight of a fascinating first day at Emirates Old Trafford with Lancashire 17-0 after Surrey opted to declare their first innings on 201-8 late in the final session.
On a day where generally cloudy conditions meant the floodlights were in action from the start, Lancashire captain Steven Croft must have been delighted with the efforts from his bowlers after winning the toss.
Tom Bailey, Ryan McLaren and Saqib Mahmood combined to give Surrey’s openers a difficult start, although Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman deserve credit for the way they battled hard against the amount of movement extracted by the Red Rose attack in overcast conditions.
Burns had an early scare when dropped at third slip on 0 although it was a difficult chance going high to the slip cordon off the bowling of Bailey.
Having survived well into the second hour of the morning, and compiling a resolute opening stand of 47 runs from 19 overs, it was Burns who was first out for 18 after mis-timing a pull off Mahmood to gave an easy lofted catch to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid-on.
Four runs had been added in five overs when Stoneman, on 23, decided to play no shot to Matt Parkinson’s fifth delivery of the day only to see the leg spinner find sharp turn out of the rough to knock back his off stump.
Kumar Sangakkara, playing in his final first-class game, received a guard of honour from Lancashire’s players and a standing ovation from the spectators, but the Sri Lankan came close to returning to the dressing room three balls later when his pull shot off Stephen Parry only just made it over the rope and the outstretched hands of Rob Jones on the mid-wicket boundary.
Surrey reached lunch on 72-2 but lost Sangakkara for 14 early in the afternoon when the left hander pulled Mahmood high to Jones who took a nicely judged catch at fine leg.
Mahmood, returning for his third first-class match of the season, took his third wicket of the day by trapping Scott Borthwick lbw playing back for 30.
Parry found turn to bowl Ben Foakes for 10 to reduce Surrey to 112-5 but it proved to be the last delivery before rain forced the players off for an early tea.
That left a final session of 46 overs to be bowled in which Oli Pope and Sam Curran fought back well with a partnership of 54 runs in 19 overs.
Both put bat to ball with conviction but also had moments of luck, Pope dropped at slip and Curran-beaten all ends up-somehow inside edged millimetres past his leg stump with Parry the unlucky bowler on both occasions.
Pope was the next to depart for 22, swinging wildly but beaten in the flight by Parkinson to be stumped by Alex Davies, the wicketkeeper a proud recipient of his County Cap at the start of play.
Curran and Rikki Clarke dug in with a dogged alliance of 17 runs that took 11 overs as the Lancashire bowlers re-established their grip, before Clarke was lbw to Mahmood for 7 to give the bowler his fourth wicket.
Surrey skipper Gareth Batty flicked Parry to Parkinson at mid-wicket to depart without scoring to leave the visitors on 184-8.
Curran reached his half century after two hours of resistance from 106 balls to finish on 56 not out when the visitors declared on 201-8 leaving Lancashire 9 overs to bat.
Alex Davies and Rob Jones survived the late test to reach the close with Lancashire on 17-0.
This was Saqib Mahmood’s first first-class game at Emirates Old Trafford and he said: “ It’s one I won’t forget in a hurry!
“For me It was more excitement this morning (about playing here).
“It’s a year on since I made my first-class debut and I’ve played at Southport and Headingley and to finally get a game here, I was looking forward to it more than anything.
As far as the day itself panned out, Mahmood added: “I think from a bowling point of view we couldn’t have done any more today.
“I thought Tom Bailey in the first session was outstanding. He didn’t get much reward. But he set the tone for us.
“We stuck at it throughout the day and to restrict them to 200, even though they declared, was good. The wicket looks like its flattening out now.”
Mahmood did express some surprise at getting to bowl first.
“The wicket looked quite good at the toss but with the overhead conditions this morning we thought they would bowl first.”
The declaration caught many in the ground by surprise and it didn’t go down too well with the young pace bowler, as he explained.
“I was so annoyed!” he said. “I was on a four-for and every ball I felt like I was going to get another wicket. Then they go and declare. So I wasn’t happy!”
Mahmood was sanguine about the reason behind the declaration.
“If they’ve done it for points reasons, I don’t think it will make too much of a difference,” he said.
“Hopefully there will be a result at the end of this game. I can’t see it being a draw unless we lose time to the weather.
“The game is moving forward quickly. Hopefully it’s put them in a bad position.
Mahmood is determined to finish the season on a high saying: “this is a one-off game. For me I’m just trying to stake my claim as much as I can.
“This game is a great opportunity to go out there, try show what I can do and hopefully be in that first eleven next year.
“Just being exposed to first class cricket (has meant) I’ve learned a lot in the games I’ve played earlier on.
“If I can learn a lot from this year and take it in to winter training, hopefully come April next year I will be a lot better bowler for it.
The fast bowler is not short of sound advice from close quarters.
“At one point I had Shiv at mid-on and Macca at mid-off,” he said.
“So you’re not short of experience there. They are constantly in your ear and get you thinking about what you are bowling, so you don’t just bowl nothing balls. You are thinking about every ball you deliver.
“I must credit my first wicket to Shiv. I hadn’t bowl a short ball and he said ‘be unpredictable with this ball’, so I thought I’d bowl a short one and luckily it took a wicket and Shiv took the catch!
“So having those two there is quality, especially when they are at mid-off or mid-on right next to you.
Mahmood’s second wicket was a special one, that of Kumar Sangakkara.
“We had a plan of how to bowl to him at lunch,” he said.
“To just come out and nail it; I couldn’t believe it had come off! Great scalp!
Indeed, and it was just one part of a thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable first day with hopefully more to follow tomorrow.
Play starts at 10.30 am , with 104 overs to be bowled with play extended by 30 minutes.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh