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Gloucestershire brought themselves back into promotion contention on day two at Bristol against Surrey.
A magical morning in which they took 8-73 was followed up by a majestic partnership of 130 between Hamish Marshall and Alex Gidman that grabbed the match by the scruff of the neck.
It was almost as if all the Shire's wishes were answered on a very blustery but sunny day. The bowlers simply operated with far greater consistency & exploited the conditions. The key was length; Saxelby, Ireland & Franklin all bowled fuller & as such posed serious questions of the batsmen, who crumbled as Surrey were dismissed for just 183 after being 102-1.
In reply, a rare solid opening stand of 77 was ruined with three wickets going down for just 11 runs, but an even rarer batting recovery has brought Gloucestershire into the driving seat in a game they must win.
Not without the occassional false stroke, it was back to classic Marshall as he played some delightful strokes. The yardstick is his placement and at times this was sublime, as he pierced the off-side field with regularity and used his feet against Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath - one extra cover drive was the essence of footwork, timing and placement against spin bowling.
Alex Gidman was naturally more regimented in his strokemaking, but he too took total control of the bowling, and by six o' clock was pulling back-of-a-length deliveries. He played the shot of the day with a sumptuous back-foot drive as the close came at the wrong time for Glos, with Surrey completely on the ropes.
The bowling succeeded by bowling as an all-round unit, and the batting is threatening to follow suit; if over 400 can be made then the Shire will have a great chance to complete victory - tomorrow morning is crucial.
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