Action from Saturday’s Warwickshire Division 3 game
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Warwickshire Cricket League Premier Division
Bablake v Rugby
Rugby returned to winning ways with a clinical performance at Bablake on Saturday, stifling the home side with accurate bowling and then compiling an assured run chase.
After last week’s disappointing defeat against Hampton, the Webb Ellis Road side welcomed back skipper Owen Edwards who won the toss and chose to bowl first.
Lee Golding immediately picked up where he left off, bowling a superb opening spell, although it was Henry Wilkins who picked up the first wicket with the score on 14. The remaining opener Luke de Souza looked assured, but Golding’s metronymic off-stump line caused endless problems for number three Josh Manning.
Golding was finally rewarded for his endeavours when he trapped Manning (21) lbw in the 14th over.
The next over saw a welcome boost for Rugby, as Edwards returned to bowling action after a knee injury and removed de Souza (18) with his fourth ball, before dismissing Adil Hussain (1) soon after and reducing Bablake to 59-4.
Edwards (8-2-11-2) and Naresh Kaushal (12-2-31-0) turned the screw for Rugby with accurate spells, but Azhar Ali and Ross Arnold steadied the ship.
However, just as they began to open up and increase the scoring rate, Wilkins (12-1-57-3) returned and picked up two wickets in an over, including the dangerous Ali (55).
After an 81-run stand, 140-4, soon became 157-9, with Golding’s second spell just as effective and a mix-up between the wickets costing Arnold (27) due to a run out.
Bablake captain Tom Cowley (21no) ensured his side used up all their overs, but Golding (12-3-36-3) prevented any acceleration at the death and the hosts closed on 181-9.
In good batting conditions this score looked significantly below par and was a tribute to the control of Rugby’s bowlers, but it was essential the batsmen learned their lessons from last week’s batting collapse, when over confidence and lack of focus saw them capitulate chasing a similar total. Openers Asaad Qureshi and Raj Chohan, calmly accumulated runs against the new ball, taking the early sting out of the attack.
They were content to defend when necessary, but punished anything loose and added 69 runs, before Chohan (36) was trapped lbw trying to slog sweep De Souza.
Jack Rosser joined Qureshi and the pair batted patiently past the drinks break until Qureshi (41) was caught at mid-on with the score on 97.
Bablake may have sensed a chance to put Rugby under pressure, but the in-form Edwards and Rosser rotated the strike against the slower bowlers in a low-risk approach that added 55 runs in 12 overs.
Although Rosser (40) was dismissed late on, Edwards (38 no) and Cochrane (12 no) saw Rugby home with seven wickets and eight overs to spare.
Warwickshire Division 3
Rugby 2nds v Marston Green 1sts
Rugby’s second string continued their habit of getting into nail-biting finishes, as yet another run-chase went right down to the wire, before they secured a superb two-wicket victory.
When the teams met earlier in the season, Rugby were bowled out for 162 in pursuit of Marston Green’s 165 and this match came down to a similarly tight conclusion. Rugby captain Jonny Sage returned from a military-medium bowling camp in Greece and was immediately back into his work; winning the toss, choosing to bowl first and making light work of the Birmingham side’s batting line-up.
Sage ripped through the top order, taking the first five wickets to fall in a sensational opening burst and had figures of 5-13 at one stage, eventually finishing with 10-4-26-5.
Abhay Lal (3-29) and Vish Rathod (2-52) accounted for the rest of Marston Green’s batsmen, but a belligerent ninth wicket stand between Abdul Khan (30) and Ishmael Hussain (40) gave their bowlers something to defend.
Rugby’s bowlers were backed up by some fine catching behind the wicket, by keeper Shreyas Honnalli and Charlie Robards at slip, helping them to bowl the visitors out for 142.
Robards and Rathod opened Rugby’s reply and started well against a strong bowling attack, adding 41 until Rathod (13) edged behind to Mo Khan.
Robards (28) and Stu Lloyd (18) moved Rugby onto 61-1 but once their partnership was broken, Rugby’s struggling middle order was blown away with spinner Ranjish Dohal (3-34) doing the damage.
The innings went into free-fall as seven wickets fell for just 28 runs and Rugby were staring down the barrel of defeat at 89-8. However, number four Abhay Lal was still at the crease and had other ideas, as he was joined by youngster Liam Slaughter.
Slaughter showed great application and determination as Marston Green threw everything at him, while Lal began to unfurl a string of delightful boundaries.
They added an unbroken 54 runs and Lal (54 no) struck a six that brought up a match-winning fifty and the winning runs in the 43rd over, while Slaughter contributed 7 not out.
It was a superb win for Rugby against a team who started the day top of the league, although the side would surely like a less tense finish soon, having won by one wicket the week before and seen six of their matches now settled in the final over under similar conditions!