Emilio Gay and Rob Keogh helped Northamptonshire make positive inroads after Surrey set Northamptonshire 320 to win in this LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Wantage Road.
An enterprising final wicket partnership from Surrey frustrated Northamptonshire through the afternoon. Atkinson and Virdi came together after Will Jacks had registered his second half-century of the match amid a clutter of wickets. Spinner Simon Kerrigan claimed three scalps in a marathon spell.
Bowling throughout the extended morning session, Kerrigan made an immediate breakthrough in the second over of the morning, taking the key wicket of Hashim Amla who pushed forward to a turning ball and was caught behind by Rossington for 26.
Seamers Ben Sanderson and Tom Taylor then accounted for Jordan Clark and Rikki Clarke cheaply as Surrey lost three wickets for just 23 runs inside 12 overs.
Jacks though moved to 50, mixing boundaries with solid defence, before Kerrigan struck in successive balls. First, he deceived Jacks in the flight and hit the stumps. Then he bowled Reece Topley through the gate before Virdi safely negotiated the hattrick ball.
Atkinson lived dangerously with a couple of streaky boundaries through the slip cordon as well as taking a blow on the helmet which flew away for four leg byes. After lunch though he began to find the middle of the bat against the new ball and he and Virdi found runs easier to come by, frustrating Northamptonshire’s hopes of keeping the run chase to a minimum.
Surrey’s seamers built early pressure and Northamptonshire’s hopes were dealt two early blows when first Ricardo Vasconcelos nicked a Rikki Clarke delivery behind before Jordan Clark had Harry Gouldstone adjudged lbw to leave Northamptonshire 37 for two.
Gay looked increasingly assured after playing an early crunching backfoot punch for four through backward point. He was soon overtaken by Keogh who got off the mark with back-to-back boundaries controlled cleverly down to third man off Clark and then punched through extra cover for four more as scoring became easier.
Flags around the ground were flown at half-mast to mark the death of former Northamptonshire player and past President Peter Arnold at the age of 94.