Berkshire defeat local rivals to put themselves back in mix
BERKSHIRE have hauled themselves into contention for a place in the knockout stages of the Unicorns
BERKSHIRE have hauled themselves into contention for a place in the knockout stages of the Unicorns Trophy after a thrilling three-run victory over OXFORDSHIRE at Wargrave on Sunday.
But they will still need to beat Devon at Exmouth on Sunday in their final group game to stay in with a chance of booking their place in the last eight.
Group 1 is currently led by Dorset with two wins from two games, followed by Cornwall and Berkshire, both with three points from three games, Devon with two from two and Oxfordshire with no points after two matches.
In front of a good sized crowd on the warmest day of the season so far, Berkshire took first use of a good batting strip and made 257-8 in their 50 overs.
At one stage they looked to be on course to reach 300 with Waqas Hussain and Henley’s Richard Morris both batting well. They took the total to 181-2 but both were dismissed in the 40th over, Hussain for 78 off 100 balls and Morris for 52 off 51 deliveries.
The sixth wicket went down at 199 before James Morris and Henley’s Stewart Davidson added 42 for the seventh wicket in five overs. Skipper James remained unbeaten on 32 when the innings closed.
When Oxon batted, Henley paceman Tom Nugent got Berkshire off to a sensational start, bowling Hugo Darby with his second delivery and trapping Lloyd Sabin lbw with his next.
Opener Richard Kaufman and Harry Stephens added 51 for the third wicket in 13 overs before former Berkshire player Stephens was dismissed for 15.
Kaufman received good support from George Munsey with a fifth wicket partnership of 87, but the game swung back in Berkshire’s favour when Kaufman, attempting a reverse sweep, was bowled by Peploe for 89 in the 42nd over and Chad Keegan was dismissed for five in the next over.
Scotland international Munsey fell to a fine catch by Henley’s Euan Woods, with Peploe again the bowler.
Skipper Luke Ryan battled hard to keep Oxon in the hunt, but he lost two partners at the other end and it left his side needing 17 runs off the final 11 deliveries with just one wicket standing.
That came down to 10 runs off the final over, with Hussain entrusted with the task of bowling it. He conceded five singles and a wide, leaving a boundary needed off the final ball, but Hussain beat the bat to leave Ryan 45 not out and seal a nail-biting victory for Berkshire, who had defeated the same opponents by one wicket in the trophy last season.
The Berkshire wicket takers were Woods 10-2-44-3, Peploe 10-0-63-3 and Nugent 7-0-35-2 with the other wicket falling to a Richard Morris run-out.
Speaking after the game skipper James Morris said: “It was a good all-round team performance and we were deserved winners. We know we have to win again Sunday. We tend to play our best cricket when we have our backs to the wall, so we are looking forward to the challenge that we will face at Exmouth. It is a game that both sides need to win.”