Played at Roding Valley Recreation Ground
Report by Steve Hamilton
This was a thrilling match which had everything and more on
a overcast muggy day with a flat wicket and a slow outfield.
We won the toss and chose to bat. Considering our unbeaten record so
far this season, I was confident I had made the right decision,
particularly as the rest of the team were in agreement!
South Loughton are a tough premier team full of talent, with a few
1st XI Herts and Essex league players thrown in for good measure. I
wasn't too happy about their line-up as we have never beaten them
before. We lost by nine wickets on our two previous encounters. But
this was our sixth fixture of the season on the sixth day of the
sixth month - could this be our lucky omen?
Talal Ali was
thrown into the deep end and opened the batting for the first time,
but he didn't disappoint. Together with Jakeria Ahmed he got us off
to a solid start, with the pair delivering a 95-run partnership
before the first wicket fell after 19 overs.
We needed to up
our run rate slightly to reach a competitive total of at least 200
to put pressure on the opposition and have any chance of winning.
Talal held his nerve and reached a well deserved 51 with sixth
fours and three monster sixes, before being stumped. After two more
wickets we had made 116 off 25 overs and it was time to accelerate.
Mo Junaid and Sam Mole did exactly that, adding 118.
scored 89 with five fours and five sixes, knocking down tree
branches and wrecking bird nests, with ball also landing with an
almighty thud on the club house.
By contrast at the other
end Sam scored 44 with deft touches. Very much the nurdler, Sam ran
swiftly between the wickets and pushed the singles into twos. His
defence was like a rock and when the time was right he hit hard,
including two explosive sixes both struck with perfect execution,
one over long off and the other a pull over midwicket.
halfway stage of the match we had reached a well-constructed total
of 239 for 6 off 40 overs. Also - believe it or not – there were
none of the usual alcohol beverages from the bar at this stage for
South Loughton needed exactly six an over to win.
Given that their team featured some big guns, our mission was not
going to be a walk in the park, it was going to be fully blown
bloodfest (I exaggerate only a little)!
Our openers bowlers
Asad Mushtaq and Talal kept the run-rate below what was required.
Asad continued where he left off from last week, firing in
deliveries the with pinpoint accuracy.
Asad was rewarded
with the wicket of their number one batsman Soomro for 34. It was a
vital dismissal as Soomro is an awkward leftie and South Loughton’s
top scorer this season who has terrorised us on previous occasions.
Asad had delivered a tempting outswinger which had Soomro swishing
through to drive the ball towards the midwicket area. But he only
managed a thin outside edge that raced like a missile towards first
slip where Fahim held a spectacular reaction catch above his head.
Salim Mithani bowled superbly with perfect control and took
the wicket of the other opener Kathuria for 18. The batsman drove
hard towards silly mid off and Super Glue hands Sam took a
breathtaking catch without a moment’s hesitation! Salim finished his
spell with respectable figures of 8-1-32-1
Now the next two
South Loughton batsman begun to up the ante. Ahmed and their captain
Stokes started to dominate the bowling, putting on over a hundred
between them. After a few fumbles in the field, our tensions were
riding high. Also, with three slightly injured players including
myself with a slight side strain from throwing the ball, the game
was now in balance.
We desperately needed to keep the
run-rate under 10. But the game was starting to slip away from us.
The home team had two batsman set at the wicket, needing 85 runs off
10 overs with seven wickets in the locker. We were in dire need of
something special to change the direction of the game.
duly came in the form of a masterclass in bowling from Jakaria. It
was the best bowling spell I've ever witnessed from an OF player! He
delivered a devastating spell of aggressive bowling, filled with
pure venom that completely altered the course of the match!
he removed Ahmed for 61 and then Stokes for 55 with Malinga-type
yorkers that clean bowled both batsman.
Then Talal came back
to bowl his final two overs and took a wicket in each. First he had
D Smith was caught behind for seven by our keeper Mo Junaid, who
dived forward to take a tremendous low catch. The next over Jakeria
shot another laser-beam yorker which clean bowled Ishan for a duck.
The following over Talal delivered a perfect ball to remove
Davey for 17, with more than equal praise due to Mo behind the
stumps. Mo dismissed the batsman with a spectacular one-handed catch
nonchalantly taken above his head that looked as if he had just
causally stuck his hand out to stop the ball.
Then a great
piece of fielding ran out the opposition’s dangerous young colt H.
Smith for 18. The game was now clearly back in our favour, but the
hosts - on 228 for 8 – required only 12 with two overs remaining.
But Jakeria put another nail in their innings’ coffin,
removing Mann for a duck with yet with another full-ball yorker.
Jakeria conceded just three runs in his final over and ended with super
figures of 6-0-50-4.
Now just one over remainded to be
bowled. Only one man was up for job and nobody was going to get in
his way, as our keeper Mo took off his pads and gloves. He bowled a
tidy over for just 6 runs, meaning we had won the game by 2 runs.
There were great contributions in the field from Fahim, Ryan La
Croix and Bradley Prospere.
A special mention for Kemet
Barrington who provided a valuable contribution after a three-year
absence. He bowled with natural control, delivering the ball
regularly at that nagging length with the occasional movement. He
kept the run rate down and ended up with neat figures of
6-0-33-0, with an economy rate of just 5.5!
It was a big
relief to finally beat and conquer the mighty South Loughton.
Victory definitely tasted sweeter as a few of us adjourned to the