Thanks to Matt for this match report
This Sunday saw Graces back in league action, hosting Alexandra Park on the back pitch at Broxbourne. With some late replacements to the team, Graces welcomed some more of our friends from Say It Loud, as well as a Graces debut for Sharjeel.
Bowling first, Stuart opened up with Chris and Sharjeel, who were both able to use the new ball to provide some swing. Opener Patel was taking advantage of the short boundaries, with his partner Law holding up the other end. It looked like it could be a strong innings for Patel before he holed out to Stuart, only inches from the deep mid-wicket boundary, to give Chris his first wicket. It wouldn’t be long before he had his second, with young Henry (or Harry as Stuart called him), taking a superb stumping from an almost wide delivery down the legside. Sharjeel was looking deserving of a wicket at the other end and finally got himself on the scorecard, with Stuart taking a fantastic catch at long on, courtesy of an excellent sprint and low forward dive, making it look far easier than it was, to dismiss the very dangerous looking Sheik.
Law was still in and was not scoring particularly quickly, easing the run rate pressure for Graces as Matt and Mahender bowled their spells, even despite the odd dropped catch and missed half chance in the field. Mahe would get the wicket though, with Wilson going for one shot too many. In the 35th over, opener Law would finally reach his half century. Henry, who had swapped the gloves with Michael, added a few overs of his own spin, whilst Mahe came back for a second spell, swapping with Matt. Mahe took his second, finally dismissing Law for a top-scoring 63 and giving Stuart his third catch. The Alexandra Park tail would not wag too strongly, with Henry and Mahe each picking up another wicket each. The final ball of the innings would involve Mahe grabbing a run out, finishing the innings at 207/8 after 45 overs, a below par score on the small second pitch. Mahe the pick of the bowlers at 3-37 from 10 overs.
It would be Matt and Ari who would begin the chase. It seemed very positive as the second ball of the game would be crunched for four and some smart running gave 20 runs from the first four overs. However, a series of short spells and regular bowling chances from Alexandra Park allowed the visitors to gain a firm grip on the run rate, with the slower bowling proving hard to get away. Eventually, Ari would lead a counterattack against the spin, chancing his luck being dropped, but brought about some boundaries and saw the run rate climbing above what was required.
Soon after, Ari reached his fifty, closely followed by a much-welcomed century partnership, right on the stroke of drinks, Ari would attempt one quick single too many and wouldn’t make his ground after being sent back, ran out for 61 – 103/1. Henry would be the new batter and would continue where Ari had left off, combining fast running with some impressive lofted drives, whilst Matt continued in a supporting role, despite a lucky escape himself in the field. It would not take long for a fifty partnership to come from the Northants pair as the run rate was quickly heading in Graces’ favour. In the 28th over, Matt would tick over to a patient half century. Unfortunately though, Henry, shortly after also being dropped, would get a ball that did not bounce much and snook under his bat to bowl him for 31.
Mahe would be the next batter in and would ensure he would allow Matt to take the strike. It would prove a good decision as Matt began to up the anti and was now starting to find the boundary with increasing regularity, including putting two balls into the river. Attempting to join in, Mahe would be the fourth batter dropped, but would end with a swing and miss to be bowled leaving the score 193/3, with 15 left to win from little under 8 overs remaining. Sharjeel would unfortunately come and go quickly, leaving Imran to join Matt. Another ball would be lost in the trees from Matt, with possible thoughts of a century looming. These thoughts would diminish immediately when Imran swatted a bowl straight over the bowler’s head, tying the scores. Fittingly, it would be Matt to finish the game the very next ball, losing Stuart yet another ball into the river, ending the game with a six to finish 96 not out from 101 balls.
A superb innings made much easier by an excellent first innings to enforce a much lower victory target and a much needed win to lift Graces out of the bottom three in the league standings!
Huge thanks to all those involved, including Rob for scoring and Martin for umpiring. Thoughts turn to the next league game next Sunday.