Gourlay’s late onslaught clinches Highgate’s nailbiting victory over Harrow Town

Craig Gourlay smashed an unbeaten 75 from just 32 balls to complete a thrilling run-chase as Highgate beat Harrow Town to stretch their lead at the top of the table.

Set 223 for victory in 45 overs, the league leaders seemed to be struggling when Gourlay came to the crease at 112-5, but the all-rounder put on 70 with Hashen Ramanayake and hit a flurry of boundaries to secure his side’s three-wicket victory.

The win, Highgate’s eighth from 12 games, moved them 12 points clear of closest challengers South Hampstead and a further 14 ahead of Barnes in third place.

“It was great to get back to winning ways,” said Gourlay. “I was struggling a bit with the bat and made some adjustments in conjunction with our coach, James Maby.

“It was satisfying to see that hard work pay off when it mattered.”

Highgate, who won the toss at Shepherd’s Cot and put their visitors in, gained an early success when Ed Foster (4-51) bowled Parth Goradia for 12, but Town looked relatively well placed as they reached 58-1.

However, three wickets went down for the addition of just one run, with Gourlay (3-85) dismissing Rushan Jaleel (1) before Foster had Asim Mohammed caught behind for 44 and took a return catch off Mohamed Nawfer (0).

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Gourlay continued to make inroads, removing Buddhi Attanayake (21) and Gishan Herath (13), while Scott Thaxton (1-34) bowled Hitesh Sejpal for five as Town slid to 118-7.

But the tail wagged significantly, led by Chulaka Mahanama’s knock of 64 not out and ably supported by skipper Gihan Herath (29) and Kamlesh Desai (17 no).

That lifted Town to 222-8 declared and ensured that the home side would need to score at around five an over to pick up maximum points.

But Highgate were hampered by losing wickets at regular intervals, with Chris Arul (17) the first to depart, leg before to Attanayake (2-42) and skipper Jake Sharland (16) following him, bowled by Mahanama.

The wickets of Ben Sudell (16) and Nick Brunner, without troubling the scorers, left Highgate in trouble at 62-4 before Ramanayake (53) and Will Brookes (16) improved their prospects with a half-century stand.

It was the arrival of Gourlay, though, that tipped the balance back in Highgate’s favour – and, although Ramanayake perished with 41 still required, Foster took up the baton with a knock of 15 from 10 balls.

The home side were left needing 31 from the last three overs and Gourlay ensured that they got them, thrashing Mahanama for the last of his seven sixes to clinch the win from the penultimate delivery of the innings.

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