Nurse’s magic leaves North Middlesex in a healthy position after victory over Indian Gymkhana

Connor Nurse’s spin wizardry bamboozled Indian Gymkhana to earn North Middlesex a fifth win of the season and take them within 13 points of the summit in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Indian batsmen are usually well practised against the dark arts of left-arm orthodox spin, even on wickets conducive to turn, but once Nurse began to weave his magic there was little doubt the visitors would be securing maximum points.

His bewitching spell of 6-26 in 12.2 overs saw the hosts fold from a position of relative prosperity at 60-2 to 97 all out.

And despite one or two batting alarms in reply, North Middlesex reached their target with five wickets to spare, taking advantage as leaders Ealing lost and dropped to second.

Hosts Gymkhana chose to bat, but Sam Webber (1-10) struck an early blow when he had opener Ameet Matharu caught by Will Nicoll in the second over before a run was on the board.

A 47-stand followed on a wicket offering little to North Midd’s quick bowlers, though Ed Bird (1-24) picked up something of a bonus wicket when Rakesh Khade (23) hit a full toss straight down the throat of Will Nicoll at square leg.

Still there was little indication of the collapse to come until Nurse got his hands on the ball, after which it was suddenly a different game.

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The spinning magician used conditions superbly, producing some viciously turning deliveries, but it was the home batsmen’s failure to pick the arm-ball which really proved their undoing as Nurse saw four lbw appeals upheld.

With Tom Nicoll (2-10) claiming two wickets from the other end Gymkhana were hustled out for less than 100 in just over 35 overs.

Unsurprisingly, North Middlesex’s openers, Joe Cracknell (14) and Webber (15) were confronted by spin and a cluster of close fielders from the off.

Their response was to go on the attack, but both perished in the attempt and with former Middlesex CCC academy starlet Will Vanderspar also caught at short leg without scoring, the visitors were wobbling at 35-3.

It was left to skipper Tom Nicoll (30) and Liam O’Driscoll (31 not out) to steady nerves with a stand of 56 to take North Middlesex to the brink of victory – and though the former and Joe Hewton (0) perished in quick succession the points were safe.

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