FOR the second week running HENLEY had to settle for the lesser end of a draw in a game which
FOR the second week running HENLEY had to settle for the lesser end of a draw in a game which they never took control of and which, but for an outstanding rearguard action by Cameron Boyce and Tahir Afridi, might easily have been lost at BURNHAM.
Winning the toss Burnham decided to bat first on a hot morning. The hosts suffered early casualties as Kumar holed out to Hamza Riazuddin off Tom Nugent at mid-on while Hamzah Khan shouldered arms to a straight one from Tahir Afridi that rearranged his middle stump.
This brought together Harveer Gandan and Aftab Khan, Burnham’s overseas player from Pakistan. Between them they put on 72 runs for the next wicket until Khan fell to Afridi, caught at slip by Bjorn Mordt shortly after lunch.
Gandan pushed on and eventually was caught behind off the bowling of Gurveer Singh but not before he had racked up 68.
Gradually the wickets came but the Burnham batsmen kept up the attack with Nadeem, Malik and Bashir in particular making good contributions.
With the exception of the wicketless Mordt and Riazuddin, who kept things pretty tight, the Henley bowlers were generally expensive.
Nugent, Afridi and Singh all took three apiece but Boyce, also wicketless, bowled too short at times and paid the price.
When Bashir was bowled for the ninth wicket by Afridi, Burnham decided that 251 in 63 overs was enough of a target for Henley and declared.
Fahim Qureshi, opening in place of Michael Roberts, who had injured his left hand playing for Hampshire the previous day, and Dave Barnes made a decent enough start before Qureshi was caught at slip.
Riazuddin lasted just three balls, caught at slip following a boundary that had looped over the keeper’s head, and once again, the middle order failed to fire as Dave Allaway, Mordt and Stewart Davison, who showed some early positive intent, all went cheaply.
When Barnes was caught and bowled by Aftab Khan, who bowled 28 overs in what was, one over of seam apart, an all spin attack from the start, Henley’s chances of victory disappeared and at 92-6, with plenty of overs remaining, survival became the name of the game.
Ferguson hit 27 runs off just 22 balls before falling lbw to Khan and once again it was left to Boyce and Afridi to see the game out.
Whilst Afridi was solid in defence, Boyce demonstrated that he is a class act with the bat, dominating the Burnham spinners, including smashing Ali out of the attack, in an innings of 53 that included nine fours and a six.
Khan and Ali bowled 50 overs between them, Malik breaking the mould with a single over of seam which did nothing to faze Boyce.
Henley held out and took another nine Division 1 Home Counties Premier League points from their drawn encounter. Elsewhere the league leaders maintained their 16 point lead over Harpenden who lost to Slough who chased down the home side’s 243 while Tring could only draw at Welwyn.
The game was marred by some undignified misbehaviour on the field of play in which disciplinary consequences may result.
K Kumar, c H Riazuddin,
b T Nugent 5
H Khan, b T Afridi 8
H Gandam, c T Ferguson, b G Singh 68
A Khan, c B Mordt, b T Afridi 30
S Nadeem, c T Ferguson, b G Singh 34
A Malik, c B Mordt, b G Singh 26
O Sarwar, c G Singh, b T Nugent 13
A Shabbir, c T Afridi, b T Nugent 7
N Bashir, b T Afridi 41
A Ali, not out 8
TOTAL (9 wkts) 251
Best bowling: T Afridi 3-26, G Singh 3-53, T Nugent 3-34.