Superb 2nds win by 157 runs
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Warwickshire Cricket League
Rugby v Coleshill
An understrength Rugby side suffered a narrow two-wicket defeat on Saturday, after a limp performance against in-form Coleshill.
Despite the overcast conditions, Owen Edwards chose to bat first after winning the toss and his side began confidently through Asaad Qureshi (43) and Raj Chohan (29) who added 69 for the first wicket.
However, once Akmal Bashir (4-42) made the first break through, Rugby’s batting line-up capitulated against some good bowling, which was assisted by some terrible shot selection.
With Shoaib Khalil (4-44) generating good pace and movement, Rugby lost eight wickets for just 52 runs, before Steve Ward and Vishaal Rathod stopped the rot.
Once again, Ward showed his value batting down the order when the team is in trouble with a measured innings that showed the top order how it should be done.
Ward (50) and Rathod (36) added an impressive ninth wicket stand of 72, before the final two wickets fell in the same over and Rugby were all out for 193.
This score looked marginally under par, but Rugby’s bowling attack have a great record bowling second at home and they were confident that 24 points were there for the taking.
However, when a simple chance went down in the second over, Coleshill’s openers Pete Magafas (39) and Muhammed Fahim (28) took the attack to Rugby.
They moved to 53 after 10 overs, before the introduction of Lee Golding saw a wicket fall to his first delivery.
Golding (2-39) removed both openers and Matt Ewer (1-37) accounted for Sunny Ahmed (24), but Coleshill continued to ride their luck and Rugby’s fielders missed further half chances, as they game moved along quickly.
It appeared that the game was over at 171-3 but, once Raj Chohan removed Deon Patel (47), Rugby’s bowlers fought back admirably.
The spin of Chohan (3-34) and pace of Rathod (2-21) combined to build huge pressure on Coleshill and five wickets fell for just 11 runs.
However, Anthony Baker (15 not out) saw his side over the line in the 48th over and the Town were left wishing for an extra 25 runs on the board and ruing dropped catches.
Warwickshire Division 3
RMCC 1sts v
Rugby’s second team put in a superb performance to record a thumping 157-run victory over league leaders RMCC to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Batting first, Rugby started confidently through Chris Evans (16) and Alex Smith (17), but the game was finely balance at 90-4 when Jon Sage joined Charlie Robards at the crease.
The pair stabilised the innings, before beginning to expand their game with some delightful shots to all areas of the ground.
Although Robards (49) was caught at point, Sage (72) continued to score freely and recorded his first half century for Rugby since signing from Stockton at the start of last summer.
Their efforts helped Rugby to reach 225/7 from their 50 overs, which proved to be well out of the home side’s reach.
Neal McGrath (6-1-9-2) picked up the first two wickets with successive deliveries, before Matt Johnson (10-3-22-2) claimed the next two.
It was then over the slower bowlers, with Naresh Kaushal starring once again with another miserly spell of deceptive variations.
Kaushal (9.2-2-18-5) ripped through RMCC, while young leg-spinner Avanish (7-2-11-1) rewarded his promotion from the 3rds with a very promising spell.
RMCC were shot out for just 68 in the 33rd over, with opener Gaurav Kumar (38) the only man to reach double figures.
The 24-point win moves Rugby onto 240 points, which is 36 points behind joint table-toppers RMCC and Sheldon Marlbrough, which is a significant difference but not insurmountable with four games to play.
Rugby will look to keep their charge up the table alive when they host third-place Bedworth 2nds on Saturday, who are just 5 points ahead of the Webb Ellis Roaders.