Middlesex County League: North London are off the mark with first win
North London recorded their first victory of the season at the second attempt on Saturday, with Byron Hackshall top scoring in a comfortable victory over new boys Harrow St Mary.
Tom Wakeford and Jonathan Scantlebury took three wickets apiece as HSM were dismissed for 158 in Crouch End.
And Hackshall struck 66 for the hosts after tea as NL reached their target with five wickets and 10 overs to spare.
It was an impressive victory given that Mark Askew’s hosts were missing five key players, including their three highest scorers from the previous weekend’s draw with Ickenham – Ian Johns, Matt Hoyle and Tom Noutch.
However, the NLCC skipper won an important toss and inserted his visitors on a flat-looking but green-tinged track.
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In truth, the home side’s bowling was steady rather than penetrative, but St Mary’s gave wickets away due to impatient batting and an ugly stumping.
Scantlebury had opener Mitul Patel (4) caught by Askew, and Hackshall (2-40) trapped Subhash Satyam in front of his wicket for a duck, before Bill Ward stumped Kunj Thakkar (2) off the bowling of Scantlebury.
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That left the visitors struggling at 28-3, and opener Harmeet Singh (16) became Scantlebury’s third victim soon after.
Lakmal Kasthura (33), Samuel Blennerhassett (43) and Ahmad Afridi (41) offered good resistance and showed the quality that has brought HSM up to the Middlesex County League.
It was the most interesting phase of the game, but Kasthura was eventually run out, while Blennerhassett and Afridi were caught off the bowling of Tom Wakeford, who ended the innings with devastating figures of 3-9.
NLCC continued to bowl to a plan as Scantlebury (3-36) recorded six consecutive maiden overs, and the hosts fielded with commitment and courage, with James Kee taking three catches.
Harrow’s middle order mixed defence with pleasing drives down the ground but, when last man Hitesh Sharma was caught off the bowling of Rajesh Singh
(1-36) after 44.2 overs, the visitors’ total of 158 looked 50 runs light.
NL’s reply began positively as the opening pair of Askew (27) and Ben Wakeford (18) made 30 for the first wicket, but it was no3 Hackshall who won the game with a quick but classy knock of 66.
Three successive wickets from Sharma gave North London an uncomfortable 20-minute spell, as they lost Hackshall, Jack-Godfrey Wood (20) and Richard Hall (1).
But Kee (11 not out) and Singh batted sensibly and maturely to reach the target and take the home side over the line with 10 overs to spare.
Meanwhile, Hornsey were brought crashing down to earth after suffering a 24- run defeat to Southgate on the last ball of the match in Division Two.
After their last-gasp opening-day win over North Middlesex, when captain Chetan Patel took a winning catch off the final ball, the roles were reversed on Saturday as Sam Hickingbotham was caught behind to give Southgate the win.
Bhasker Patel (3-37) was the star with the ball as Hornsey restricted their hosts to 206 after 50.5 overs.
However, the visitors’ reply got off to the worst possible start as they slumped to 64-5.
Hickingbotham led the recovery, while Martin Tucker hit 56 as Hornsey reached 168-6. And, although the tail fell cheaply, Hickingbotham was still at the crease at the end of the match, needing to defend the final ball to earn a losing draw – only to nick the ball behind.
Elsewhere, Craig Gourlay took six wickets for Highgate, but couldn’t save the newly promoted Park Road outfit from their second successive defeat.
The visitors lost the toss at Bush’s Bromyard Avenue ground on Saturday and, having been asked to bat, failed to reach 200 for the second week in a row.
Having started their new life in Division Two with a score of 165 against Southgate, Highgate mustered 184 before their dismissal after 49.5 overs.
And, athough left-arm spinner Gourlay recorded figures of 6-46, Shepherd’s Bush reached their target after 41.2 overs – and with four wickets to spare.
North Middlesex’s target of promotion is already looking like an uphill struggle after a six-wicket defeat against Brentham left them pointless from their opening two league fixtures.
Asked to bat, Evan Flowers (51) followed last week’s ton with a half century as North Mid reached 110-2, but another middle-order collapse left them 137-8 less than 45 minutes later.
All out for 163 after 47 overs, the hosts were equally disappointing in the field, and Vishak Vakani (72) took Brentham to a rapid 148-3 as the visitors secured victory after just 28.3 overs.