Zafar Ansari was dismissed for 99 but his patient 244-ball innings ensured that Surrey had the best of the opening day of their top-of-the-table LV= County Cricket Championship game against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.
When bad light forced the players off 13 overs before the scheduled close, the visitors were 262 for four after 83.2 overs with Steven Davies on 33 not out and Jason Roy unbeaten on 15.
That represents a decent return for the visitors after Gareth Batty had won the toss and opted to bat in the game which could decide the Division Two title.
However, the day was still deeply frustrating for Ansari - who had laboured over his innings for 277 minutes when he hit a full toss from Steven Croft wide to Jimmy Anderson’s left at short extra cover, where the England bowler dived to take an outstanding catch.
The Surrey opener had held his side’s first innings together, hitting 10 fours and a six in an innings which was an excellent advertisement for his England credentials. Ansari has now scored 771 runs and taken 44 wickets in the competition this season.
Only 18.1 overs had been possible in the morning session of the game before rain closed in and caused an early lunch to be taken, although no overs were lost as a result of the stoppage.
In the play which was possible, Ansari and Rory Burns opened their side’s innings competently and the visitors were 59 without loss when the players came off the field.
There was another blow for Lancashire when Anderson was warned by Russell Evans for running down the pitch but Anderson redeemed himself by taking the prize wicket of Kumar Sangakkara for nine and Arron Lilley had Ben Foakes caught at slip by Alviro Petersen for 45 as Surrey proceeded to 176 for three at tea.
The long afternoon session had begun well for Lancashire when Rory Burns’ attempted cut off Tom Bailey only bottom-edged the ball onto his stumps.
Burns departed three balls after reaching exactly 50 off 71 balls but better was to come for Lancashire when Sangakkara’s attempted drive off Anderson only snicked the ball chest-high to Steven Croft at second slip, where Lancashire’s captain took a straightforward catch.
Foakes and Ansari then added 67 for the third wicket in 25 overs before the former Essex batsman edged Lilley to Petersen. However, Ansari was 63 not out at the break after reaching a patient half-century off 137 balls in 174 minutes.