1st XI salvage draw in run fest

Waltham St Lawrence 1st XI winning streak came to an end at Shinfield in a run fest in the sun on Saturday. On a featherbed of a pitch WSL lost the toss and were asked to field and opened up with an experimental option of Waghorn and England. Shinfield’s batters were unusually cautious in their approach but with the short square boundaries and lightening outfield runs the batters were getting full value for their shots and Waltham were energetic in the field backing up some good bowling.

The first breakthrough came after 15 overs when first change Venkata followed up an audacious stumping attempt by Gandhi to trap Deshmukh in front for 28. Other opener Naseer never really looked comfortable but continued to accumulate runs and together with number 3 Hafeez took the score beyond 100. It wasn’t long till the touch paper was lit in the Shinfield innings as Hafeez unleashed a series of murderous drives.

No one was spared and in spite of Venkata bowling Naseer then brought Mahzar to crease to add to the carnage. The tennis players who seemed to be playing a full 5 set classic were in serious danger as sixes rained down. In between times, WSL tried to keep a lid on things but were guilty of a number of fielding blunders and countless dropped catches which ultimately cost them the chance of keeping the total to a chaseable amount.

Eventually Mahzar holed out to Waghorn who showed how to take a catch and Guliani took Hafeez off Mathur for an excellent 111. WSL continued to take wickets as Shinfield threw the bat but more dropped catches meant that they were able to declare on 328 for 6 from 42 overs.

This was going to be a huge challenge but WSL took heart from the speed at which Shinfield were able to score and the difficulty to contain and Gandhi and Sainani set off following a scrumptious tea to get us off to a solid start. Gandhi was soon on the move with a 3,2,1,4 sequence and Sainani was preparing to buy a lottery ticket as he was dropped from his first two balls, firstly at slip then from the keeper.

The Waltham balcony were hoping that he would profit from his misfortune and go on to a big score and in spite of losing opener Gandhi bowled by the impressive Garg both Sainani and Venkata began to play lovely shots and the run rate was hovering around 6 keeping WSL in the game.

When Sainani was out playing on to youngster Prowse the score was 72 in the 15th over and in Sharpe, Venkata found the perfect ally and they put on an excellent 70 for the third wicket. Venkata was rock solid in defence and merciless on the bad ball scoring a fluent 55 from 61 and Sharpe was looking to run hard and rotate the strike. The rate however was climbing and by the time Venkata was out fortuitously caught on the second attend by Garg Waltham needed more that 10 per over.

Connor and Sid Sainani came in and tried to push the rate along but following their swift departures Sharpe completed an excellent half century and the creative Waghorn a run a ball 51 not out. Sharpe was finally out for 72 and Mathur finished the innings unbeaten with WSL on 250 for 6 from 48 overs.

Ultimately this was a chase that was a little too big but 290 might have been very interesting. Captain Andy Malliff was pleased with the fight with the bat but will rue the dropped chances in the field and will look to improve for next week.