With the glorious April weather set fair, WSLCC got the 2017 season underway with a home fixture against Ibis Mapledurham. Stand in skipper Chris England won the toss and opted to bowl first and plan was bearing fruit as early as the 4th over as Sid Sainani had opener Webber well caught at mid on by Kumar. Better was to come as again Sainani induced a false shot from Singh and Venkata did the rest taking a smart running catch.WSL were on top at 18-2 but with Ibis star man Drury combining with skipper Jones they had to be patient and tight in the field. Enter the Venkata England combination with the latter taking a simply stunning reflex catch at gully to dismiss Drury to give Venkata his first wicket. Better was to come before drinks as England bowled Pilkington for 5 and Venkata had the aggressive Cudjoe caught on the the boundary by Gujjar for 7.
Post drinks was a similar story with WSL sharp in the field and Kumar had Masters caught by Kiani at Gulley in his 2nd over. Captain Jones was starting to run out of partners but was himself beginning to look more dangerous but as he passed 50 the returning Gujjar made a mess of his stumps and he returned to the pavilion for a well made 54. Mathur then got into the action taking two wickets with his tidy off spin and Kumar finished the innings off, winning an LBW decision against last man Hart.
The tea score of 164 looked a reasonable effort from both teams but WSL perhaps would be frustrated to have let Brackley away with a few easy boundaries on his way to a 23 NO in a rear guard action in the final few overs.
Following the much anticipated Siva Kumar tea, which didn’t disappoint, Waltham set off in their pursuit of 165 to win and with Gandhi opening up in spite of 40 tidy overs behind the stumps they were quickly into the twenties and even though they lost Kiani to a dubious LBW, Sharpe was rebuilding with Gandhi who hit Hart for three consecutive fours.
However with his wicket from an in swinger which cramped him for room and the introduction of Masters’ off spin, batting became tough and runs much harder to come by with pace off the ball. WSL were being patient and Sharpe and Gujbal took the score to 51 before Sharpe played over the top of a yorker then on the same score Gujbal lofted a drive to mid off.
The game was changing and with only 64 on the board at drinks, Waltham needed exactly 100 to tie in the final 20 of the game. Gujjar was now in with Sainani and both were looking to play aggressively knowing one positive partnership could break the back of this chase. However, the balance of risk and reward tilted in Ibis’ favour as Sainani miscued to midwicket and Gujjar hit a full toss to Mid off.
Number 8 Mathur was taken back by the speed of the dismissals and wasn’t ready to bat so Connor went in for a few balls before clothing a half tracker for a dreadfully played zero. However, it was all part of the plan as the match turned up a notch ready for a grand stand finish with Vankata and the now ready Mathur forming the partnership of the innings both hitting excellent scores of 30.
It looked at they would win the game for Waltham with the rate down to 4 per over, but the game cruelly turned on an umpiring decision as Venkata was harshly adjudged run out. England joined Mathur with the game in the balance but the pendulum shifted further when Mathur’s innings ended as he skewed a drive to mid off.
Last man Kumar confidently joined captain for the day England in the quest for victory and England looked ready to do it with a trademark square cut which rocketed to the boundary and the WSL onlookers started to believe again. It was to be short lived optimism as Kumar looked to put returning opening bowler Pilkington into the field but only managed the next wicket and he was caught with only 10 needed.
This was an excellent game and a great work out before the season which starts in May. Well played everyone.