HENLEY ran out narrow winners away to SLOUGH in a tense and highly contested Home Counties Premier League fixture on Saturday.
The home team won the toss and, under clouds and with a stiff breeze, asked Henley to bat.
Michael Roberts and the returning David Barnes began proceedings without too much alarm, although it quickly became apparent that the pitch was two-paced, causing a number of deliveries to rise sharply, with conditions allowing movement.
Scoring was evidently not easy and several deliveries passed the bat. With the score on 26, Roberts was put down by the keeper, only for the next ball to again find the edge and be gobbled up at first slip.
Whilst Barnes began to gather some momentum, clattering four fours in Hussain?s opening over, Jake Doran lasted only six balls before trying to cut a little too close to his body and edging to the keeper off opening bowler Khan.
This became double trouble for Henley as Matt Rowe was out lbw to his first delivery, providing Khan with his second victim in a continuous spell of 10 overs that would cost only 23 runs.
Barnes fell at the half-way stage when, with the score on 89, he gave catching practice to Khan at backward point off the recently introduced Yousaf.
Zippy Ashraf, batting at five, was joined by David Allaway and, in the face of challenging bowling and tight fielding, they carefully constructed Henley?s best partnership of 65.
Both eventually fell to the intriguing action of left arm spinner Akbar. Allaway was bowled attempting a reverse sweep, trying to force the pace with the score on 154 but only six overs left. Ashraf reached the day?s highest score of 51, including four fours, before failing to connect and being dismissed lbw.
A late charge by Stewart Davison, with a useful 23 not out, together with Euan Brock and Bjorn Mordt, who scored the inning?s only six, both inevitably succumbing to run-outs. Henley were left wondering whether their 204-8 was enough.
Slough?s dangerous opening batsmen, Hussain and Shah, took to the field in bright sunshine but Henley were relieved to have them both back in the hutch by the third over. Mordt bowled another consecutive 10 over spell, taking Hussain?s wicket in his first, courtesy of a sharp catch by Doran.
Coming in at number three, Khan became Nugent?s second victim, both caught by Roberts at slip.
Doran was brought into the attack from the pavilion end and, whilst having a little problem with his front foot, his pace quickly despatched both Yousaf and Baig, bowled and lbw respectively. With the score at 73-5 after 21 overs, Henley?s supporters were becoming increasing confident.
Slough had other ideas and new signing Lloyd Paternott and long-time skipper Bobby Sher put on the match?s highest partnership of 79. Paternott hit sevven fours before nicking one from Ashraf to keeper Davison, for 46.
Sher marshalled the tail and, in the 44th over, cut loose with two consecutive sixes. With the score standing at 167-6, things were getting interesting and Henley?s relief was evident as Sher fell to Ashraf?s next ball, caught at cover by Allaway.
Whilst Rana barely troubled the scorers, Akhtar, coming in at number eight, did better with bat than ball, scoring regularly on his way to becoming the third Slough player to reach the 40s. Alongside him, opening bowler Nawaz thrashed an entertaining knock, including three fours, before being caught by Barnes off Nugent in the penultimate over.
The first ball of Ashraf?s final over was a missed stumping but he restricted Slough to seven off the over and at 200-9 they were left five runs short of a victory.
|M Roberts, c Khan, b Nawaz ||18 |
|D Barnes, c Khan, b Yousaf||31 |
|J Doran, c Rana, b Khan||7 |
|M Rowe, lbw, b Khan||0 |
|Z Ashraf, lbw, b Akbar||51 |
|D Allaway, b Akbar ||28 |
|S Davison, not out ||23 |
|E Brock, run out ||3 |
|B Mordt, run out||13 |
|Extras ||30 |
| TOTAL (7 wkts) ||204
| Best bowling: S Khan 2-23.
|W Hussain, c Doran, b Mordt ||5 |
|N Shah, c Barnes, b Nugent ||0 |
|S Khan, c Roberts, b Nugent||6 |
|L Patternott, c Davison, b Ashraf||46 |
|S Yousaf, b Doran||13 |
|F Baig, lbw, b Doran ||32 |
|Z Sher, c Allaway, b Ashraf ||44 |
|N Akhtar, not out ||42 |
|S Rana, c Davison, b Ashraf||1 |
|R Nawaz, c Barnes, b Nugent||15 |
|A Akbar, not out||0 |
|Extras ||25 |
| TOTAL (7 wkts) ||200
| Best bowling: N Nugent 3-49, Z Ashraf 3-54.