BEN Foakes’ classy 44 from 37 balls could not prevent Vitality Blast holders Essex from clinching a thrilling tie against Surrey in an extraordinary finish at the Kia Oval when they grabbed wickets from the last two balls.

Replying to Essex’s 143 for six, in which Ryan Ten Doeschate top-scored with 35, Surrey always looked capable of chasing down their victory target, especially when Foakes was there as wickets kept falling at the other end.

An equation of 69 from the last 10 overs became 20 from the final three. Gus Atkinson, having struck Simon Harmer for a straight six, was then leg before for 14 to Cameron Delport’s medium pace from the second ball of the 19th over.

Nine runs were needed from the last over, and Foakes made Surrey favourites by clipping Matt Quinn’s first ball to square leg for four.

A couple of singles and then a two left the scores tied – but, with the field up except for long leg, Foakes hooked Quinn straight to Paul Walter on the boundary rope.

Quinn’s final ball was full, James Taylor missed it, and the keeper whipped off the bails.

With Taylor still in his crease, the ball was then thrown to the bowlers’ end to run out Matt Dunn – who had sprinted down the pitch, backing up – to confirm the tie with Surrey finished on 143 for eight.

A disappointed Foakes said: “That’s a game we should have won. I thought Matt Quinn was bluffing me when he kept looking at the one fielder outside the ring, so it caught me by surprise and he also has the ability to bowl his bumper a bit quicker.”

Quinn again produced exactly the right ball – full and just outside off stump – to defeat Taylor’s efforts to get a bat on the final delivery and Delport’s mix of cutters and changes of pace also proved vital.

The South African took a wicket with his first ball, when Rory Burns chipped to midwicket, and ended up with the superb figures of two for 22.

Walter also took an important two for 19 – Laurie Evans caught at extra cover for 19 and Jamie Smith hitting a short ball to Harmer at cover to go for 30.

On a day when spin was a big part of the strategy of both sides, Harmer’s accurate off-spin accounted for Scott Borthwick, caught at deep square leg for 13, and Aron Nijjar’s four overs of slow left-arm were also economical.

Surrey, without 13 players through injury and England calls, employed the spin of Gareth Batty, Borthwick and Dan Moriarty to bowl more than half the 20 overs but both Dunn and Atkinson also bowled excellently, Dunn removing the dangerous Delport for six in the second over.

Varun Chopra had pulled one huge six off Dunn before, on 16, pulling flat to Borthwick at deep square-leg to give seamer Taylor his first T20 wicket in the fifth over.

Tom Westley was bowled for 20 by a quicker ball from Borthwick and, after Atkinson had Dan Lawrence caught at mid-off for seven to make it 52 for four, Ten Doeschate and Wheater rebuilt the innings with a series of singles and scampered twos in a partnership of 57 in 8.3 overs.

Ten Doeschate was dropped on 18 but hit two leg-side sixes from successive Borthwick deliveries, a full toss and then one dropped short.

Another full toss, though, from the last ball of the over, proved to be Ten Doeschate’s downfall as he advanced but mis-hit high to deep square-leg.

Wheater and Walter put on 34, every run of which proved valuable after the late drama.