Khawaja century helps Highgate claim crucial victory over Hampstead

Highgate in batting action in the Middlesex County League (pic: Michael Clarke/Highgate CC).

Highgate in batting action in the Middlesex County League (pic: Michael Clarke/Highgate CC). - Credit: Archant

Johan de Silva hailed the bowling efforts of Craig Gourlay before Zaakir Khawaja and Muz Ali saw their team to victory

Zaakir Khawaja and Muz Alli batted ‘beautifully’ to see Highgate home in a pivotal Middlesex County League Premier Division clash at home to Hampstead.

The Shepherd’s Cot club entertained their local rivals knowing they needed a win to boost their hopes of survival.

After dismissing Hampstead for 310, the strugglers chased it down with six wickets in hand to secure a crucial 10-point victory.

It was a topsy-turvy clash, however, with the visitors dominating the early stages after putting on exactly a 100 for the first wicket.

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“Having won the toss, skipper Ali, back from injury, won the toss and elected to field,” said Johan de Silva.

“We opened with Malik Shahid Sadiq (0-31) and Uzair Amjaid (3-90) and once again rushed through overs before lunch, walking in with 38 overs bowled.

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“Hampstead did however make excellent progress with Mubasher Hassan in particular striking the ball well for a 38-ball 54 until he was removed by Craig Gourlay.

“Rob Keen was left not out at lunch approaching three figures, which made the period after the break particularly pivotal in the shape of the game with Hampstead well-poised.”

Highgate needed someone to step up and vice-captain Gourlay delivered picking up his best figures of the season - 6-101 from 24.1 overs.

It saw Hampstead collapse from a promising position to 310 all out with 64.1 overs used up.

“Keen eventually finished with an accomplished 109 before being run out by wicket-keeper Khawaja, and from this point on, Hampstead’s innings began to lose momentum,” said de Silva.

“We restricted them from 254-4 to 310 all out with Gourlay the chief architect of this with figures of 6-101.

“Although a large score, the team were confident of being able to chase this total down given the size of the ground and the quality of the pitch prepared.”

Highgate needed a strong start and Hasnain Ali (47) and Jake Sharland (35) put on a solid partnership for the opening stand.

A mini-collapse occurred during the middle overs with Hampstead’s Chris Beaumont-Dark taking 3-75 from 21 overs.

Overseas Liam Knight stuck around for a rapid 44 off 50 balls and then wicket-keeper Khawaja (109 not out) and captain Ali (54 not out) put on 161 for the fourth wicket to see Highgate over the line.

Clubman de Silva added: “Hasnain and Jake started well, putting on 89 for the first wicket. We then lost a flurry of wickets, including Sadiq, sent in to pinch-hit, to leave us at 98-3.

“Overseas Liam Knight made a fluent 44, and the game was in the balance when he departed with the board reading 153-4, and with Khawaja unbeaten on 17.

“However, it was left to the pairing of Khawaja and Ali to bat beautifully to see the team over the line, Khawaja finishing with a maiden century for the club, sealing the game with consecutive sixes.”

The Shepherd’s Cot club remain in the bottom two, but are only 18 points from safety while Hampstead stay fourth.

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