Highgate captain: Next two games will be vital in bid for survival
Highgate captain Jake Sharland expects the next two games to be crucial in determining whether his side preserve their Middlesex County League Division Two status.
Sharland’s men recorded only their second victory of the campaign on Saturday, routing Harrow St Mary’s by 122 runs to move within seven points of safety.
Next up they travel to rock-bottom Wembley before taking on Acton – the side just above them – at Shepherd’s Cot a week later, knowing that two wins would certainly lift them out of the relegation zone.
“It was about time, but it’s been coming in the last few games,” said Sharland. “We were the better team on the day against Hornsey and Indian Gymkhana, but we’ve been really unlucky.
“We need to get a result against Wembley and that would put pressure on Acton. If we win these two we’d go above Acton, which would be a huge change in our fortunes.
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“I think we really need to cash in now while we’re still playing the timed format. It’ll be difficult going back to limited-overs cricket, especially as we’re playing most of the top teams in those games.”
Highgate were asked to bat by their visitors on Saturday and, although Sharland was run out for a duck, Chris Arul (35) and Will Bowley (20) soon got the scoreboard moving.
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The pair paved the way for a commanding knock of 91 by Sandun Dias, who struck eight fours and five sixes and gained solid support from Will Brookes (28).
However, Nkululeko Serame (4-109) and Haran Dharmaraja (2-62) worked their way through the middle order before a savage onslaught by the ninth-wicket pair hauled Highgate past the 250 mark.
Craig Gourlay thrashed 38 from just 12 deliveries, while Phil Knott took nine balls to make an unbeaten 22 as Sharland declared on 265-9 after 51 overs.
“Those runs at the end proved to be invaluable and it’s always handy having guys like that coming in down the order, who are able to adapt to different game situations,” added the skipper.
Harrow St Mary’s openers Armaan Randawa (44) and Nikin Ruparelia (18) made a solid start to their reply, but then Gourlay (5-35) and Robin Glassberg (2-43) reasserted the home side’s control.
Gourlay removed Randawa, as well as dismissing Ajay Soni and Kunj Thakkar for ducks, and ended the resistance of Lakmal Kasthuri (20) and Sam Blennerhassett (16) to complete his five-for.
Dias (3-32) then finished the visitors off by dispatching Serame (18) and Dharmaraja and Harindu Gunasekera, the latter pair without scoring, as HSM were bowled out 143 in 44 overs.
Meanwhile, Hornsey slid out of the promotion places for the first time this season after their four-wicket defeat in a low-scoring game at Enfield.
The Crouch End side slumped to a disastrous 57-8 after losing the toss and, although they salvaged some respectability by raising the total to 126 from 55 overs, it was not enough.
Enfield’s opening bowlers Lee Robertson (3-30) and Arthur George (2-30) blew away the top order, with skipper Paul Weekes (9)the first to depart, leg before to Robertson.
He was followed by Joe Emanuel (0), Alex McKenzie (13), Steve Atkinson (6) and Chetan Patel (8).
Shenal Siriwardhane made 12 before he fell to Dan Amedee (3-30), who then removed James Fleming and Tom Lytle for ducks.
Jack Goldberg (25) and Nii-Amaa Ollennu (33) gave their side a glimmer of hope before both were dismissed by Ryan Cunningham (2-27) to wrap up the innings.
Ben Waine (3-41) made immediate inroads when Enfield replied, getting rid of Neville Talbot (0) and Craig Williams (9) before Max Houlahan was caught behind for two.
Waine also took a catch to dismiss Jack Plumb (21) off Ollennu (1-12) and when Weekes (2-49) removed Asad Shah (10), Enfield were 57-5.
However, Kyle Bacchus-Brown (33) kept Enfield on track and Joe Naughton (22 not out) and Amedee (17no) saw them home at 128-6 in the 40th over.