Sunday, 20 June 2021

Winning runs in rain-affected encounter

A COMBINATION of rain showers, Duckworth Lewis and two competitive sides produced an exciting match and

A COMBINATION of rain showers, Duckworth Lewis and two competitive sides produced an exciting match and nail-biting climax as hosts HENLEY pipped BANBURY to the post with just two balls to spare on Saturday.

Having lost the toss, Banbury were put into bat on a cloudy and blustery morning. The Banbury openers made a creditable start until Bjorn Mordt, having been frustrated by a couple of rejected lbw appeals in his first over, finally prevailed against Haupt in his second to remove the Banbury veteran for 24.

For a while Clarke and the incoming Sabin were becalmed as Cameron Jacobsen and Mordt kept things tight. But that logjam was broken by a couple of expensive overs when Gurveer Singh replaced Mordt. Singh was swiftly replaced by Ashraf which had the desired effects of staunching the flow of runs and removing Sabin in Ashraf’s first over.

Clarke brought up his 50 in the 29th over with a deft dab down to third man to make it 130-2 off 29 overs. Two short rain breaks in the 31st ad 36th overs were more nuisance value than anything else and were cumulatively of insufficient duration to reduce Banbury’s overs.

With Hawtin at the wicket, Banbury now had two 17-year-old batsmen in action, both of whose performances belied their age. Clarke was out lbw for 69 and Hawtin holed out to Nugent at long on for 62 to make it 218-4 with five overs to go which West and Ryan used to good effect to add another 47 that included several sixes in the direction of the Little Angel as Matt Rowe, Tahir Afridi and a returning Singh all took some punishment.

Banbury posted a score of 265 in 50 overs with the third highest scorer for the visitors being extras with an eye watering 43 including 23 wides and 14 fielding extras, though, in fairness, Henley keeper Stewart Davison had been hobbled early on with a blow to the knee standing up to the stumps to Mordt.

In reply, with Penhale struggling for direction, soon to be replaced by Wright, Davies and Rowe settled to their task and runs soon flowed although Davies was dropped at fine leg early on.

By the end of the 22nd over, Henley were 89 runs to the good, the batsmen set and looking comfortable and Banbury were beginning to wilt in the field. Cue Luke Ryan to bowl a wicket maiden in his first over, Davies lbw attempting to sweep. Rain intervened and the Henley target now shifted down to 257 off 48 overs.

Alert to the need to get ahead of the Duckworth Lewis par score, Rowe and Henley skipper Michael Roberts took the game to Banbury and at the end of the 31st over, when rain intervened again, were three runs ahead of par on 126-1. This break knocked off a further three overs and reduced the winning target to 240. When play resumed, Henley lost Roberts to an lbw decision, and by the end of the 35th over, Henley needed 90 off the remaining 10 overs.

The incoming Morris kept up the momentum with several sixes and was crucially dropped at long off, though the loss of Rowe for an enterprising 87 changed the par scores yet again.

With Ashraf now joining Morris in the middle, Henley were soon ahead of the game only for Ashraf to be run out with a direct hit from point, Taylor having but one stump to aim at whilst Morris launched a fourth six into the neighbouring garden at the Pavilion End.

Overs and runs required decreased and with 18 balls remaining, Henley needed 25 to win. Morris was caught at extra cover but a four through the keeper, a couple of singles and a run two made it 17 off 12 which Davison and Afridi whittled down to 11 off seven.

With 11 needed off the last over being a big ask Afridi crashed a six over long off into the nets to make it five off five balls. A dot, a run and a dot made it 4 off three only for a straight driven four by Afridi to close the game out and leave bowler West kicking the ground in frustration as heavy rain enveloped the ground.

Victory and 20 points was enough to leapfrog the visitors into second place in Division 1 of the Home Countes Premier Legaue by two points with two games remaining.

Speaking after the game skipper Roberts said: “I am really pleased with the lads’ efforts today, and the character and attitude which were perhaps lacking a little last week.

“Although we weren’t quite at our best with the ball first up, Cam bowled beautifully for us and in conjunction with Zia and Matt, our spin attack showed their quality. Gurveer leads us week in, week out on this front and it was pleasing to see the others operating at a high level.

“Then with the bat, we were really committed to showing our capacity to chase under pressure; we also heavily owed the bowling unit after last week. Jack and Matt got us off to the perfect start, and the latter played beautifully for his 90-odd.

“What we did well was build partnerships with each wicket, keeping the momentum going, and Rich’s six-hitting, combined with Stewie’s and Tahir’s composure at the end of the chase, ensured we got there.

“I was proud of everything we did today, and the way we adapted to the Duckworth Lewis implications bodes well for the future.”

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