Report by Chris England
Given that the highest score a batsman made on either side was 28, it was evident that this was a game dominated by the bowlers. Skipper Malliff, opted to field on winning the toss, putting the priority on chasing down a total and securing the win. After a couple of loose balls which were dispatched to the boundary, the Warfield openers went further and further into their shells. Another outstanding spell of bowling from Siva Kumar (12 overs 1-7!) had the Warfield top order tied up in knots. And when Chris Waghorn (3-28) joined the spin party, the opposition crept forward at snail’s pace to 36 off the first 20 overs.
A further set back occurred with a run out and then Waghorn bamboozled Torry and Birchall. Warfield were now bogged down and losing wickets. However, Gander (17) and Shabrin (24) attempted to inject some aggression to up the run rate but it was short-lived as Waghorn struck again. With Kumar’s overs finished, WSL persevered with spin and it wasn’t long before Sree Venkata bowled Ganesh. However, Shabrin and Sutcliffe started to dig in and the home team were now anxious about bowling the opposition out within the 45 overs. The impasse was finally broken after a masterstroke from the home skipper who turned to the returning Lee Capeling. The latter duly obliged by picking up 2 wkts in two overs, one with his first ball. With England imitating a leaping salmon in catching Sutcliffe off Venkata, Warfield were 9 down but with only 3 overs remaining to prize out the last batsman. Despite the final pair putting up stubborn resistance, captain Andy Malliff maintained the tension by dismissing Riyas with the final ball of the innings ensuring WSL got maximum bowling points.
Warfield’s strength has been in their bowling recently, and so it proved. Openers Gandhi and Venkata found the pace of Gander and the accuracy of Takunda difficult to dominate. As the home team’s reply nudged into the 30s Gandhi became Takunda’s first wicket when trying to force the run rate. Gander then struck, removing Waghorn and Sharpe, both for ducks. Suddenly, WSL were wobbling. When the dogged Venkata went caught at slip, shortly afterwards Warfield could scent an upset.
However, hope for WSL was emerging in the form of Capeling (24) and Ali (21) who combined solid defence with several impressive boundaries. But when Ashley Gander (4-29) came back for his second spell and removed Ali first ball, WSL were 6 wickets down and still over forty runs short. Sid Sainani briefly threatened to take the game away from Warfield but was another batsman bowled after looking settled. Ravi Sainani decided to go onto the attack. With some elegant offside 4s he looked like he and Capeling were steering the home side to victory. However, this season a Waltham victory still needed more tension. Capeling was out to a well taken caught and bowled by Takunda (2-33). The Warfield total got closer as skipper Malliff now joined Ravi but just as victory was in sight the latter chipped a full toss straight back to the bowler Gander. Once again England and Malliff had the responsibility of getting WSL home. Finally, a sprinted three runs to the third man area achieved a hard fought victory. The game was contested in a good spirit—a credit to both sides. WSL stretch their slender lead at the top of BCL Division 2 a little further.