Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Henley hold on to top spot despite draw

HENLEY managed to hang on to a slender three point lead at the top of the Home Counties Premier League despite only being able to draw at HAREFIELD last Saturday

HENLEY managed to hang on to a slender three point lead at the top of the Home Counties Premier League despite only being able to draw at HAREFIELD last Saturday.

The home side won the toss and elected to bat. This was to prove crucial as all the allocated overs were used and batting first meant they had eight more than the visitors.

Henley almost disposed of Harefield?s key man and captain, Simon Macey, on the second ball but Afridi?s front foot no ball, the first of several, negated it.

This proved costly as Macey lasted more than half the innings, batting with assurance and accumulating 47 runs before Singh forced a leading edge to Nugent at short mid-on. Singh had already accounted for Vijay in his eventful first over, his first ball being a full toss which the batsman hit for six over the scoreboard, but four balls later picking up his 100th league wicket for the club, again assisted by a sharp catch by Nugent.

It had been Nugent who had taken the early wickets of Shiel and Friend, both beaten for pace in a hostile opening spell from the bowler who would later account for Tyrrell, the manner of his three wickets (lbw, caught at slip and bowled) attesting to the threat he posed.

However, Henley allowed Harefield to pull away in the middle overs, partly the result of some uncharacteristically sloppy fielding including a couple of dropped chances.

Norotam at number five batted expansively to build on Macey?s foundation, scoring 72 off 96 balls including 11 fours. Ably assisted by a couple of good cameos from Richards and Ogden, he accelerated the score before becoming Singh?s third victim.

Afterwards at the 56th over, the number Henley would be allocated, Harefield had 200 runs but they would make good use of the extras, pacing their innings well and hitting out at the end to finish on 243-9.

Henley knew that, on a flat wicket, they had a job on their hands but they kept up with the required rate of 4.4 an over for the first dozen overs, with a boundary an over, despite losing Barnes for 10 in the 10th, caught at slip going for a big one.

The important wicket for Harefield, taken after an hour by the first change bowler Muzarawetu, was that of Roberts, caught behind after another enterprising knock of 43.

The middle order were unable to press home the early initiative, partly as a result of some tight bowling and defensive field settings. Allaway was doing a good job of holding up one end on his way to his half century while Ashraf began to hit the ball hard but often only to find a fielder before being well caught and bowled by Tyrrell for 30. Bazley was showing good promise before being adjudged lbw to off-spinner Morris.

By the time Mordt was out, caught in the 45th over at backward point again off Morris, Henley?s run rate had fallen to 3.5, and for their last 10 overs they still required 82 runs to win.

Davison?s arrival at the crease provided the impetus for the innings needed, he was hitting the ball hard to all points, running for everything with Allaway in a quick-fire 80 run partnership, and the tension increased as the required rate fell to as low as seven an over.

The opening bowlers were brought back, including the impressive 18-year-old Tyrrell, now on Worcester?s books, and Henley were constrained to the extent that they still required 22 off the last two overs.

The frantic running eventually accounted for Allaway, then Afridi, and finally Davison for 50 off only 36 balls.

With Henley just six runs short but with only one delivery left, last man Singh was left to defend for a draw.

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