Ricky Ponting wowed the County Ground faithful with a century as Derbyshire toiled on Day 3 against Surrey.
But even the Australian legend was upstaged in the LV= County Championship fixture by opening batsman Aaron Harinath who struck a career-best 154 in Surrey’s 362-4.
The visitors trail by 90 runs heading into the final day which commences at 11am tomorrow. They have seven first innings wickets still in hand, including that of Ponting who reached an overnight score of 120 not out.
Surrey began Day 2 on 35-1 following Wayne Madsen’s remarkable dismissal of Rory Burns on the previous evening.
The Derbyshire captain prized the wicket with a direct-hit throw from the mid-on boundary as Surrey began their response to the home side’s 452.
The pace trio of Tim Groenewald, Mark Footitt and Mark Turner were determined to take advantage of the opening created by Madsen’s moment of fortune.
All three were impressive in unhelpful morning conditions as Vikram Solanki (35 off 127 balls) was forced into his shell by a severe working over, during which he took a nasty blow to the arm from a fired-up Turner.
Harinath was far more fluent, however, and the left-hander struck seven boundaries on his way to a 99 ball half-century.
The off-spin of Wes Durston made the breakthrough on the stroke of lunch as Solanki’s nick was parried by wicketkeeper Richard Johnson - and plucked by short-leg Billy Godleman – to leave Surrey 137-2.
The post-lunch session took place under bizarre circumstances as several Derbyshire players – and umpire Nigel Cowley – began to suffer from illness.
Cowley was temporarily replaced by Surrey coach Ian Salisbury who carried out square-leg duties. The fielding side resorted to extra drinks breaks and relays to and from the dressing room.
Harinath completed the third century of his first-class career by launching Durston over long-on for six. The Surrey opener had faced 224 balls and hit 13 fours.
Ponting, meanwhile, slotted seamlessly into county cricket and breezed serenely past 50 - in 85 balls, with six fours - as the visitors took tea at 255 for 2.
The next landmark was Harinath’s 150, reached in 291 balls with 21 fours and a six. That came moments after Ponting had wowed the crowd with a trio of supreme off-side boundaries off Turner.
Harinath was finally dismissed, by a David Wainwright shooter, with the partnership worth 180 runs in 49.1 overs. His 154 came from 305 balls with 21 fours and a six.
Those stationed outside the Surrey dressing room were on their feet again moments later as Ponting mowed Durston to the square-leg boundary to bring up the Australian’s 81st career first-class century.
Wainwright, who toiled through 27 overs in the day, at least ensured that Derbyshire had the final say when he clean bowled Zander de Bruyn for 11. It had, however, been very much Surrey’s day.
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