Monday, 14 June 2021

Henley maintain top spot despite being held to draw at home by Slough

HENLEY posted a decent score on Saturday but, on an imperfect wicket, could not break down

HENLEY posted a decent score on Saturday but, on an imperfect wicket, could not break down SLOUGH’S resistance in their Home Counties Premier League Division 1 clash at the Brakspear Ground.

The resultant draw, along with High Wycombe’s draw at Oxford and a win by Banbury, leaves five points separating the top three with Henley just having their nose in front, by a solitary point.

Henley won the toss and batted first. By the 11th over, Barnes and Roberts had taken the score to 45 which included 10 fours, mainly off the back foot but including a number of edges to third man as they tried to adjust to the conditions.

Barnes fell first victim to the rangy Nawaz, loping in off an economical run—up, caught at leg slip but Roberts became increasingly assured as he and Rowe put on a partnership of 137 which took Henley beyond lunch and on to 182 runs in the 37th over. Slough rang the changes and turned to spin during this period, using six bowlers but to little effect as the batsmen capitalised on whatever poor balls were offered and some indifferent fielding. Rowe was timing his shots well and let loose with four sixes over mid—wicket. He tried and almost succeeded with an exact replica one ball later but, to everyone’s amazement, including the jumping fielder Shah, he was caught one—handed on the boundary for 75, a moment that was to change the game. Roberts, with another big innings of 76 which took him to more than 550 for the season, was trapped lbw two overs later by the same bowler, Yousaf.

Bazely soon followed the same way for a duck and Henley, now facing defensive fields, lost momentum as their early promise of a big score declaration faded away.

Yousaf and Baig were exerting better control with the ball for Slough, Ashraf was bowled round his legs sweeping, and Carter flat—batted a straightforward catch back to Baig. Mordt and Davison contributed some useful runs as Henley ended all out on 274 with just one over left of their allocated 64.

Slough, so often a counter—attacking team, settled into damage limitation mode as they progressed their response at little more than two an over.

With a slow pitch, and little swing, Henley’s seamers were unable to provide their usual threat though Afridi, with typically impressive control, did have opener Shah caught behind in the seventh over.

Spin was introduced as early as the 12th over and Singh, who was to bowl 20 overs for 40 runs, had the other opener Avas caught by Rowe at mid—on. With spin noticeable but slow, nothing much else happened up to and beyond tea, despite Henley setting attacking fields with five or six round the bat and little or no cover on the boundary as they tried to create chances.

In the 31st over, Mordt introduced Rowe to partner Singh in the attack and in the space of a few overs, things began to happen. Rowe enticed the left—hander Ilyas to attempt a big hit to leg and bowled him, Singh had the new batsman Yousaf out lbw before he had time to set himself, and Rowe had the normally dangerous Hussein caught behind to a defensive push.

Henley showed good spirit and tried everything they could in terms of effort, field placings and bowler rotation, even having Afridi and Mordt try an over each of off—spin, but Slough’s Shan Khan and captain Bobby Sher held firm with coolness and determination in their 52 run partnership to see their team out for the draw, on 141 for 5, at the 7pm close of play.

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