HENLEY were outfought by a depleted READING team on Saturday, finally losing a long drawn-out match
HENLEY were outfought by a depleted READING team on Saturday, finally losing a long drawn-out match at Sonning Lane which saw their lead at the top of the Home Counties Premier League shrink to just three points.
Henley, having won the toss and elected to field, tried to blast out the Reading top order with pace and attacking fields, only to find them up to the challenge.
Afridi did manage to trap Waghela lbw in the fifth over after he had hit four fours, mainly to leg, when attempting a repeat.
The wicket favoured spin but it was not until the 19th over that Singh and Ashraf were deployed, by which time Fray and Andersson were well set and, making full use of the conditions, scoring at five an over. They took the score on to 120 in the 27th over before Singh had Andersson caught low down at slip by Mordt for 49 including nine fours.
Ashraf trapped Rishton lbw for nought and Singh, justly rewarded for the control he was increasingly exerting, proceeded to eliminate the middle order in short order. He finally put an end to opener Tom Fray’s innings, caught by Barnes for his season-best score of 62, and collected his fifth wicket, that of Brennan, in the 45th over, by which time the rate had fallen to four an over.
With the score on 162-7, Henley brought back Afridi and Nugent to complement the spinners in an attempt to finish Reading off but Amjad and Slatcher, pinching runs whenever they could, held out to see off all of their allocated 64 overs, and scoring 22 off the seamers in the final three, to close out on 220-7.
Henley came in to bat at 3.30pm with the task of scoring at four an over in their allocated 56, and put on 40 runs before Reading brought on their spinners. Malik enticed Barnes to take a couple of steps down the track but only managed a false lofted shot, caught at mid-on.
Reading attacked with a short-leg for the spinner and a major misfortune befell Henley in the 19th over when Roberts was adjudged caught there, after a lengthy consultation between the umpires who had initially seemed uncertain as to whether the ball had carried. Rowe was looking in good touch and accumulated 49 runs including a six and seven fours before top-edging a catch to square leg off Andersson as he was brought back for a quick second spell.
With the score still on 111 and Bazley new to the crease, Ashraf called a sharp single but failed to make it and Henley were now in some trouble, exacerbated in the next over when Mordt was caught in the cordon attempting an unconvincing glance.
Five wickets down, they still required 106 runs from 24 overs. Bazley and Davison did their best to stabilise the innings but Malik eventually accounted for them as they both missed sweep shots trying to force the pace.
Carter’s arrival did bring some excitement as he clobbered a four and three sixes over the head of the fielders at deep mid-wicket. After a cameo 16 from Afridi, Carter’s demise on 41 from 38 balls, caught at slip for Malik’s fifth wicket, spelt the end.
Skipper Hartley picked up his second wicket, that of Nugent, to leave Henley 20 runs short of a win and reflecting on the way that Reading’s tail had put the match beyond their reach.
With the time approaching 8pm, Reading were docked a penalty point for a slow over rate despite having deployed spin for 38 of their 54 overs bowled.
T Fray, c Barnes, b Singh
P Waghela, lbw, b Afridi
M Andersson, c Mordt, b Singh
A Rishton, lbw, b Ashraf
A Dosanjh, c Davison, b Singh
K Malik, lbw, b Singh
P Brennan, b Singh
F Amjad, not out
I Slatcher, not out
TOTAL (7 wkts)
Best bowling: G Singh 5-51.
M Roberts, c Nasim, b Malik
D Barnes, c Slatcher, b Malik
M Rowe, c Amjad, b Andersson
Z Ashraf, run out
J Bazley, c Nasim, b Malik
B Mordt, c Waghela, b Andersson
S Davison, lbw, b Malik
M Carter, c Fray, b Malik
T Afridi, b Hartley
T Nugent, lbw, b Hartley
G Singh, not out
Best bowling: K Malik 5-70, M Anderson 2-27, D Hartley 2-49.