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Flowers praises North Middlesex’s attitude after draw at Stanmore

16:10 16 June 2014

Evan Flowers hits out for North Middlesex. Pic: Max Flego

Evan Flowers hits out for North Middlesex. Pic: Max Flego

Max Flego Sports Photography

North Middlesex’s stand-in skipper Evan Flowers praised his side’s attitude after they just missed out on a winning draw against Stanmore in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Flowers top scored with 55 as North Midd recovered from a difficult start on a rain-affected pitch to post a total of 198 all out and then reduce their hosts to 38-4 in reply.

However, Stanmore fought back to reach 143-5, squeezing past the four-point target with just two balls to spare and leaving Flowers and his team-mates eight points adrift at the bottom.

“We showed a lot of character to bounce back from that start and give ourselves a chance of winning the match, just as we did last week,” said Flowers.

“Tosses always have a significant impact on rain-affected matches in this format, but good teams make their own luck and we did that with both bat and ball.”

Flowers lost the toss and North Midd were inserted in damp conditions for the fifth time in six games, with Stanmore opening bowler Abishek Kulkarni taking full advantage of the crumbling surface.

Kulkarni (5-46) hit the stumps of Connor Nurse (0), Andy Balbirnie (6) and Michael Clements (0) in quick succession to reduce North Midd to 10-3 before Flowers and John Mills began repairing the damage.

The pair guided their side to 43-3 before a downpour held up proceedings and, when the players returned, there was no let-up from Kulkarni, who made the most of the variable bounce.

He bowled Mills (20) and then had Maruf Chowdhury (2) caught behind but North Midd rallied as the conditions improved, with Alex Hill (14) giving Flowers support.

The visitors were back in trouble at 110-7 after both batsmen departed leg before to spinner Mukesh Bhatt (2-45), but they were boosted by a stand of 60 between Joel Hughes (22) and Will Nicoll (44).

Clever placement combined with busy running ensured that North Midd hauled themselves up to a competitive total of 198 in the 61st over, with Nicoll the last man to fall.

With 16 overs lost due to rain, Stanmore set out to chase 140 for the four points, but that target seemed a long way off when Hughes (1-20) bowled Stevie Eskinazi for a duck.

Balbirnie (2-39) then picked up the wickets of Kunal Mehta (15) and Tim Percival (0), while Nick Brand (1-12) trapped Abbas Azharuddin (0) lbw to leave Stanmore in the mire at 38-4.

But a fifth-wicket partnership of 65 between Steve Mehra (51) and Jimi Chialoufous (54 not out) put the home side back on track, although Nicoll (1-31) struck to dismiss Mehra at 103-5.

Tight bowling from Chowdhury and Hughes left Stanmore needing nine from the last nine balls to claim the winning draw, but Marc Reingold (17no) helped Chialoufous nudge them over the line.

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