Friday, 23 August 2019
HENLEY did their Division 1 Home Counties Premier League title chances a power of good winning a tense encounter at SLOUGH last Saturday whilst their nearest rivals both lost.
Henley now have a 53 point lead over second placed Datchet with 105 points on the table and five games to go.
Henley skipper Mike Roberts won the toss and put Slough in to bat on a wicket which was both poor and extremely challenging to say the least, whether batting first or second.
In no time at all Slough were up against it as Tom Scriven, bowling a full length, nipped out both openers, Aktar caught behind and Avas well caught low down to his right by Tom Nugent at third skip.
Nugent set up and trapped Zaib lbw and Slough’s most dangerous player and the league’s leading scorer was gone and Slough were 25-3.
This was Scriven’s day as he proceeded to take apart the Slough batting line-up, ending with figures of 7-40. By lunch, Slough were 79-8. Amongst the carnage, Slough skipper, Goutham Shrikrishna stood firm and posted the top score of the day to take his side past 100 before he was finally deceived by Euan Woods’ spin.
Noor and tailender Nawaz kept up the momentum until Nugent castled Nawaz lbw, Slough finishing with 119 runs on the board.
Chasing down small scores can be notoriously difficult and any notion that this was going to be the Saturday afternoon stroll that some modest run chases have been this summer for Henley were very soon dispelled. Slough’s opening bowlers Nawaz and Janed took full advantage of the pitch conditions to bowl some unplayable deliveries, evidenced by Nawaz’s 10 maiden overs of 19 bowled.
Nawaz’s first over was a wicket maiden that saw Mike Williams trudging off and a belligerent boundary from Matt Rowe was followed by a looping shot to cover which Zaib plucked out of the air to make it 4-2.
Jack Davies and Richard Morris took the total to 25 before Morris was bowled and 25-4 became 25-5 as Scriven got himself into a tangle and was run out. Woods lasted five balls for nothing, Davies was out lbw and Roberts became the second run out victim of the day to leave Henley teetering on the brink at 39-7 and an excitable Slough scenting a famous victory which became increasingly likely when Brock was Aktar’s second lbw scalp with the score on 49.
Henley bat deep and their never-say-die attitude runs though the side and now it was the turn of Andrew Rishton and Nugent, both capable batsmen, to restore order and steer Henley home. Both batted with intelligence and watchfulness and refused to retreat into their shells or be cowed by the bowlers or by the pitch or the circumstances of the game.
Helped by the pitch flattening out a bit, a ball that was getting softer, and, tiring bowlers, the pair put away boundaries where they could, ran hard and turned the pressure onto their hosts, gradually forcing the field to spread and heads to drop, cheered on by a substantial travelling support.
On 117, Rishton drove the ball deep into the covers for what was an easy two which he cheekily turned into a rapid third to take Henley over the line for victory, the prospects of which had seemed extremely remote an hour or so earlier.
12 August 2019
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