Saturday, 19 June 2021

Afridi?s haul helps side get back on track

HENLEY held on to their lead at the top of the Home Counties Premier League with a stirring display at HORSPATH on Saturday

HENLEY held on to their lead at the top of the Home Counties Premier League with a stirring display at HORSPATH on Saturday.

Play was delayed until 1.30pm due to the heavy rain of the previous day that had seeped under the covers. Henley lost the toss and were put in to bat on a green wicket with some decidedly soft patches that favoured seam bowling.

By the fifth over the visitors were two down as Barnes, having hit a couple of fours, was run out trying to get back from an ambitious single, and Rowe had a ball hold up which he could only parry back to short mid-off.

For the next hour and 40 minutes Roberts and Ashraf gained control and added 110 runs including 14 fours. Ashraf escaped a couple of catching chances but both played the conditions well, getting forward as much as possible to try to counter the variable bounce.

Horspath made a couple of changes, Shabbaz Ali initially proved difficult to get away, and Skelton contrived two wickets in three balls. Ashraf scooped up a rising delivery to be taken by a diving keeper in front of the wicket while Roberts glanced a ball which found the hands of Ali at backward point just after he reached his 50.

With the overs for the match reduced to 47/42, Mordt and Allaway resolved to push the score on and added a useful 40 runs with some expansive play including four fours and a six before both being caught off skipper Will Eason?s bowling in the 41st over.

This allowed Davison and Carter to indulge in some heavy hitting and Henley declared on 190, purposefully conceding three overs to Horspath so they could press for a win.

Nugent roared in and with the third ball had Robbie Eason caught behind off his glove from a ball that zipped off a length, to reinforce the hazards of facing real pace in the conditions.

Next it was Afridi who forced 15-year-old Harrison Ward, last week?s youngest ever centurion for Oxfordshire, onto the back foot for an lbw, and Horspath were 11-2.

In parallel to Henley?s innings, James Phillips and Dom O?Connor steadied the ship and the two left-handers played some fine shots for good value against Henley?s attacking fields.

Carter and Ashraf were brought into the attack and the batsmen began to take greater risks, sensing perhaps as they took the score onto 89-2 that they might be in with a chance.

Carter was to prove a revelation, going for 18 runs in his first two overs but then picking up four wickets for 10 runs in his next 10 overs. He took the prize wicket of Phillips lbw and was greatly assisted by Davison who stood up to his bowling, put pressure on the batsmen, accounted for O?Connor with an impressive stumping and parried one sharp chance to be taken at slip by the diving Mordt.

As Henley upped the intensity, Horspath lost four wickets with the score stuck on 111, Afridi?s second spell recorded his third five-wicket haul of the season and as many as six of the home team?s wickets fell to lbw, as they crashed all out for 118 in the 36th over.

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