Essex v Surrey: Kumar Sangakkara hits fifth first-class century in succession
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground|
|Surrey 334-7: Sangakkara 177*, S Curran 90, Meaker 43*; Quinn 3-66|
|Essex: Yet to bat|
|Surrey 3 pts, Essex 2 pts|
Kumar Sangakkara's fifth successive first-class century led a remarkable recovery for Surrey against Essex.
The Sri Lankan finished unbeaten on 177 as Surrey closed on 334-7 having been reduced to 31-5 in the opening hour of a sun-drenched first day at Chelmsford.
Sam Curran (90) shared a 191-run partnership with Sangakkara for the sixth wicket while Stuart Meaker (43 not out) added more tail-end runs.
Seamer Matt Quinn (3-66) had earlier prospered with the new ball for Essex.
Sangakkara's past five County Championship innings have produced scores of 136, 105, 114, 120 and 177 not out and he has now scored 769 runs this season at an average of 128.16.
In between, he also struck an unbeaten 124 in Surrey's final One-Day Cup group match against Hampshire.
Five successive first-class centuries is a Surrey record and Sangakkara became the first player to achieve the feat since Mike Hussey for Northamptonshire in 2003.
He was let off on 46 when former England Test captain Alastair Cook dropped a sharp chance at first slip off Neil Wagner, which brought up his half-century in the process.
And the left-hander, who confirmed on Monday he will retire from the first-class game in September, moved to his century in 173 balls and then passed 150 off 247 deliveries.
Essex, who started the day top of Division One and a point ahead of second-placed Surrey, were in charge early on after Quinn and Jamie Porter (2-70) had accounted for the top order.
But by the close, Sangakkara and Meaker had added an unbroken 95 for the eighth wicket to move within sight of a fourth batting point.
Surrey all-rounder Sam Curran told BBC Radio London:
"It was amazing [batting with Kumar Sangakkara], I didn't really expect that at 11:30, I'd be in batting with him, especially after winning the toss.
"Fair play to the Essex guys, they bowled top of off stump and made a good pitch look like a good bowling wicket.
"But, batting with Kumar was probably only the third or fourth time I have in four-day cricket.
"We're going to miss him at the end of the year when he goes, but we're going to take in whatever we can right now.
"It was literally incredible batting with him. He told us to dig in deep to start with and just take 20 minutes at a time and then go from there.
"He helped me through the way and that's the best time to score runs when the team needs you.
"I'm gutted to miss out on a hundred, but the main thing is we finished the day in a good position and I definitely think it was our day."