Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Ashraf hits winning runs as side progress to last eight

THE April weather has not been kind to HENLEY’S warm-up programme, with both friendly games against

THE April weather has not been kind to HENLEY’S warm-up programme, with both friendly games against Ealing and South Wilts falling victim to waterlogged pitches.

It was therefore a sense of relief, in the face of impending poor weather, that Henley successfully completed their May Bank Holiday Monday Home Counties Premier League Twenty20 first Round fixture against COOKHAM DEAN, running out winners by seven wickets.

Newly promoted to the HCPCL Division 2 as 2015 Thames Valley Cricket League Champions, Cookham Dean arrived at the Brakspear Ground keen to see how they would make out against established Division 1 opposition. Though the result was never in doubt, they made a pretty decent fist of it.

Winning the toss, Henley’s debutant skipper Michael Roberts elected to field in chilly conditions. With an embarrassment of riches in the bowling department at his disposal, Cookham Dean struggled to gain momentum and were restricted to a modest 109-6 off their 20 overs.

Bjorn Mordt, with a couple of athletic caught and bowled, new recruit Euan Woods and speedster Tom Nugent each bagged a brace of wickets as Zia Ashraf, Tahir Afridi and Gurveer Singh exerted miserly pressure and control.

With rain in the air and a deluge forecast, Henley were soon ahead of the Duckworth Lewis rate. Though Mordt was an early run-out victim, Matt Rowe (31) and skipper Roberts put on 58 for the second wicket and Roberts continued the good work with new recruit Richard Morris.

Batting conditions were far from comfortable and the Cookham Dean bowlers did not make it easy. Roberts and Morris (21 not out) played the percentage game, exploiting the gaps cleverly and wisely and running hard with the odd boundary and monster six thrown in.

Roberts (35) might have closed the game out but offered an easy catch to Dean skipper Millar at mid-off, leaving it to Ashraf (15 not out) to clip the winning boundary through midwicket with nine balls to spare as heavy rain that had threatened all afternoon finally enveloped the ground.

Henley will now host Gerrards Cross at the Brakspear Ground in the quarter-finals on May 30.

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