Hughes claims seven wickets as North Middlesex play out a thrilling draw with Twickenham

Joel Hughes took seven wickets for North Middlesex in a thrilling draw in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League, with both teams going into the final over with a shot at victory.

Hughes took 7-62, removing all but one of Twickenham’s top eight batsmen – and although Carlos Nunes (90) and David Russell (42) shared a century stand, the visitors fell short of 200 in Crouch End.

North Midd went into the final over at 192-8, needing eight to win. But Nick Brand (26) was caught attempting a six, and opener Adam Holmes (35 not out) – who had earlier retired due to cramp – returned to fend off the remaining deliveries and secure a draw.

Twickenham elected to bat in a match that was reduced to 100 overs due to overnight rain – but Hughes removed Daniel Lezar (1), Don Manuwelge (4) and Arjun Rehncy (31) to leave the visitors 39-3.

Marc Lezar (10) and captain Nunes added 33 together but Hughes then bowled the former and Brand (1-30) had his replacement Eugene Berger caught by Joe Cracknell for a duck as Twickenham struggled to 73-5.

The momentum shifted as Russell joined Nunes, with the pair putting on 112 together – but having reached 185-5, Twickenham were bowled out for 199.

Hughes prised out Russell, Sanjit Sandhu (0) and Nunes – who was caught by Will Nicoll – while Connor Nurse wrapped up the tail by removing Arunjit Sandhu (0) and Parminder Singh (1) at the end of the 50th over.

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North Midd’s chase began well as Holmes and 16-year-old Cracknell shared an 83-run first-wicket partnership, the latter hitting 55 at a run a ball.

Nunes turned to spin, with the duo of Singh (4-79) and Manuwelge (5-41) bowling 40 of the 50 overs between them – and in the 19th over, Singh (4-79) had Cracknell caught by Russell, sparking a collapse as North Midd lost five wickets for 35 runs.

Further misfortune ensued as Holmes was forced to retire with cramp, having battled through 34 overs to reach an unbeaten 35.

However, Nurse and Nicoll added 35 together – and when Nicoll (13) was caught attempting a big hit, Nurse and Brand put on another 39 for the eighth wicket.

Nurse (26) was eventually bowled by Singh in the penultimate over – and with six deliveries left, North Midd needed eight to win with two wickets in hand.

Brand tried to strike a big blow with a six, but he was caught on the boundary – and Holmes limped back to the crease to play out the rest of the final over.

Captain Tom Nicoll said: “Joel Hughes produced a stunning bowling effort for us. Adam and Joe then gave us the opening stand we needed to go on and win the match, but yet again the top order collapsed, leaving us up against it.

“The tail wagged well and the match could have gone either way. It was a great game of cricket and a draw was probably a fair result.”

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