North London hope their draw with leaders Highgate is a turning point

North London captain Jack Atchinson says their improved batting display has given the struggling club a timely boost in their bid to escape bottom spot in Division Three of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

After league leaders Highgate had posted 293, NL managed to reach 200 for the first time this season with only four wickets down, battling for a losing draw that ended their neighbours’ 100 per cent record in the league.

New overseas player Yasir Hashmi struck an unbeaten century, with Rich Hall producing a fine supporting knock of 57 as the visitors thwarted Highgate’s hopes of a sixth successive win.

Despite that, North London remain anchored to the foot of the table – and are 18 points adrift after Winchmore Hill, their next opponents, picked up their second victory of the campaign.

“Everyone at the club has been feeling pretty down about the start we’ve made,” said Atchinson. “So a solid batting performance like this has given the whole club a lift.

“The batting has been our main problem this season. I don’t think we’ve been playing that badly overall – there have been a couple of close games that could have gone either way, but they haven’t gone our way.

“It’s a case of putting a performance in over the whole 100 overs and we’ve only done it in periods.

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“There’s no getting away from the fact that we’re in a dire position – we need to improve and fast. If we can get a run of three or four wins together we’re going to drag everyone back in with us.”

Atchinson won the toss at Shepherd’s Cot and put the home side in, but the in-form Chris Arul was immediately on the offensive, clattering four of the first six balls he faced to the boundary.

However, Arul was bowled by Geoff Jones in the next over and Highgate were in difficulties soon afterwards at 30-2 when Tom Wakeford’s one-handed catch accounted for Matt Holly.

Hashen Ramanayake, in tandem with skipper Jake Sharland, led his side’s recovery and had reached 39 when he nibbled at a ball from Ted Greally and was caught by Ralph Pedersen.

Greally, who finished with 6-102, then removed Nick Brunner, with Atchinson taking the catch at cover – and the scenario was repeated when Sharland departed for 40, leaving Highgate on 130-5.

Craig Gourlay and Will Brookes (pictured left) added 70 as the momentum swung back in Highgate’s favour, with Ed Foster adding a quickfire 30 to boost the run-rate.

Brookes was eventually stumped for 75 and the Highgate innings closed at 293 from 49 overs – a target that looked steep for a side with North London’s batting frailties.

NL’s victory chances looked even more remote when Rosh Tennakoon was caught behind off Ramanayake for a duck and Sam Bardon was trapped leg before by Foster soon afterwards.

That left the visitors in trouble at 12-2 and Hussain Shabbir, who fell to Gourlay, was next to depart – but Hall was by now entrenched at the crease and he found a firm ally in Hashmi.

The pair continually frustrated Highgate’s bowlers and, although the home side stationed fielders around the bat, they were unable to make any further breakthrough until Hall was out with three overs remaining.

Hashmi went on to reach 100 not out as NL closed on 200-4 at the end of the 51st over and doubled their points tally for the season.

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