Dominant Highgate have to settle for a draw as South Hampstead survive

Hashen Ramanayake hammered his first league century for Division Three table-topping Highgate but bad weather thwarted their chances of victory at South Hampstead in the Middlesex County Cricket League.

The Sri Lankan star struck an unbeaten 116 to hold his side’s innings together after they had slumped to 21-3 – and then took three wickets as Highgate pushed for maximum points.

But the league leaders were ultimately foiled by the combination of rain and a stubborn undefeated knock of 40 from SH’s Shrutarth Rajani that restricted them to a winning draw.

South Hampstead skipper James Williams won the toss and inserted the visitors, a decision that paid immediate dividends when Nish Patel (2-35) removed both openers in quick succession.

Matt Holly (11) was first to go, caught by Karthik Jagannathan, with the in-form Chris Arul (4) edging Patel behind soon afterwards and, when Callum Fraser was leg before to Kirk Drummond (1-32) for a single, the visitors were in trouble.

Ramanayake, aided by Nick Brunner, rebuilt the Highgate innings with a fourth-wicket partnership of 71 before Touqeer Ahmad (4-53) made the breakthrough.

He had Brunner caught by Williams for a well-made 30 and then struck two further blows, removing Will Brookes (0) and Craig Gourlay in successive deliveries to leave Highgate wobbling at 100-6.

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However, Ramanayake – who had just passed his half-century – found a new ally in wicketkeeper Philip Knott (9), who helped him to add a vital 42 before he became Touqeer’s fourth victim.

Freddie Barrass (5) and Scott Thaxton (5) stuck around long enough for Ramanayake to reach three figures and he had steered Highgate to 184 when last man Thaxton fell to Williams in the 48th over.

Like their opponents, SH made a poor start with the bat as Jagannathan (1) was caught behind off Brookes (3-30) and Leroy Shepherd (6) was bowled by Ramanayake.

Highgate’s opening bowlers kept up the pressure and Brookes struck again to reduce the home side to 27-4, dismissing Patel (8) leg before and having ex-Warwickshire star Keith Piper (4) caught behind.

However, rain forced the players off soon afterwards and, although they briefly returned as Gourlay (1-10) took the fifth wicket, that of Sacha Duran (4), it became clear that Highgate were facing a race against time.

Rajani dug in at one end, but Ramanayake continued to make inroads at the other as he got rid of Williams (14) and Fuad Ahmed (3), leaving SH precariously placed at 68-7.

But Sebastian Rae (8 not out) refused to yield and he and Rajani held firm with an unbroken partnership of 32, guiding their side to 100-7 from 35 overs when the weather brought proceedings to a permanent halt.

Meanwhile, North London were unable to make up ground at the bottom of the table after their home game with Winchmore Hill had to be abandoned.

NL’s bowlers came in for some punishment as the visitors racked up a total of 303-2 declared in 46 overs, with Jim Gatting hitting an unbeaten 122.

Home skipper Jack Atchinson then scored 53 not out as NL reached 70-2 in the 18th over before the heavens opened.

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