After recent set-backs against Weston and Greenwood Park - both games they could have won - the 2nd XI were still top but needed a good win to bounce back. The opposition were a side that Rickmansworth rarely play, called Pirton.
The deck was a bit of a green-top and played much quicker than in previous weeks. The Pirton attack was also the most potent we have faced, so it was no surprise we fell away 19/3 with Sohail, Paul and Harvey all back in the Hutch. Paul was bowled and Harvey caught behind, whilst Sohail was adjudged lbw. Usman and Bobby put on 20 and Waqas and Bobby a further 24 (before he too was given out lbw) and Ricky were 63/5 with only Bobby holding one end. Waheed struck a quick-fire 16, but at 89/6 Ricky were realistically looking at 130 as a target.
However in came Owen and his choice of judicious defence and strong offensive shots on the off-side enabled Bobby to relax and continue to build. Indeed when Owen was out for 26, the partnership was on 45 and Ricky on 134. Azhar and Tasal both got into double-figures and the final total of 163 was deemed a moral victory. We still had 6 overs to go, which was disappointing, but we had a total in testing conditions.
Tasal opened the bowling and was nice and quick. Bobby swung the ball prodigiously and clean bowled Howard - but it was another no-ball. The 3rd wicket off a no-ball this season for Bobby! We like to do things the hard way. But then, with the score on 44, Usman got Howard to pop up a catch to Waheed at mid-on. Pirton went into defence mode, before dricks and were on 47/2 after 22 overs when Sohail took a wonder catch, diving forwards at mid-wicket to dismiss the ultra defensive Laskowski (son of the standing umpire).
Pete Clarke for Pirton then went ultra defensive, successfully so, only playing late cuts and pull-shorts. But Azhar was meanwhile working his way through the middle order. . His 4-14 in 9 overs was a miracle considering not one boundary was struck. When Owen took his second close catch at silly mid-wicket to dismiss Maple, Pirton were 83/7. But the durable Clarke was still at the crease, having survived lbw shouts and appeals for caught behind that would have seen off lesser men. Then back came Tasel. A shout for lbw that was really, really close and then perhaps, thinking his luck was in for ever, he tried to play a shot in front of square and lost his off stump. A very well-crafted 32 and the Rickmansworth players were delighted to see the back of him, as with him went much of the game.
Sammy and Jake pushed the ball around for singles, and with only 56 required off 10 overs, they could have seen things home. But Usman, Bobby, Waqas and Zaf all bowled tightly and the rate went up to 17 needed off 2 overs. Bobby was called for a no ball and 2 wides off the penaltimate over, but amazingly they couldnt put a bat on all 6 of the 'legal' deliveries. It was a masterclass.
Needing 13 to win off 6 balls, Usman bowled a straight ball that flicked part of the batsman and nestled in Paul's gloves. The batsmen ran and rather than wait for the decision, which was not going to come, he ran out the batsman. The final 5 balls were an anti-climax as the Pirton Batsman made no attempt to pierce the field and scored only 4 more singles. It was a riotous celebration that finished the game as Ricky had pulled off a sensational win.
That's half the season done. Time to dig in for the second half.