20th July 2013 - Match Reports.

Smethwick vs Barnards Green 1st XI

Barnards Green 1st XI travelled to Smethwick this weekend hoping to keep up their unbeaten run. However after the previous game with Smethwick going to the wire and with both teams in mid-table a close game was expected.

Smethwick won the toss and chose to bat first with the weather warm but overcast. Veteran Arif Mahmood and ex-Handsworth keeper Renrick Hooper opened the innings with Mahmood in particular struggling at the outset against both Mark Hardinges and Liam Smith. Hooper however looked fluent hitting some impressive boundaries off both bowlers. Smith made the first breakthrough ending Mahmood’s misery when he edged one to Hepburn at 3rd slip for just 6. Hardinges had Hooper caught at extra cover for 29 including 6 fours before Ahmed fell quickly for 0 edging one to Hardinges at first slip to give Smith his second. Smethwick had reached 38 for 3 as captain Vikram Jit Sodhi was joined by Daniel Choudhry.

The score had progressed slowly to 52 when Hardinges grabbed his second wicket as he trapped Sodhi lbw for 12.  Jon Dovey and Alex Hepburn joined the attack Choudhry and new batsman Tahir Naqash found it hard to score. Choudhry fell next for 6 caught by Liam Smith at point off Dovey to leave Smethwick 68 for 5 at the halfway point. However as Tahir was joined by Kuldeep Diwan Smethwick still had plenty of batting to come. Both batsmen played sensibly if not fluidly until Dovey took his second wicket as Tahir edged one to keeper Ash Brewer for 20. Diwan started to open up supported by number 8 Anjum - they took the score past 100 in the 37th over. Smith returned to the attack and the change of pace nearly had the desired effect as Diwan skied one, only to be dropped by Hepburn at mid-wicket.

The score passed 150 in the 49th over as Diwan and Anjum hit a number of boundaries and Diwan brought up his half century with a four through backward point. Their impressive partnership had reached 64 with the total on 159 when Anjum was spectacularly caught one handed by Andy Ford, diving low to his right at extra cover off Smith for 20. Smith claimed a brilliant five for in his next over when Diwan holed out to Adam Dovey at mid-on for 56 and Kuldip Singh edged a short rising ball to Ford at slip for 1. With 3 overs to go Smethwick were 166 for 9. Aadil Rashid and Bilal Choudhry had taken the score to 178 in the last over when Choudhry was run out by some smart fielding off his own bowling by Jon Dovey to the end the innings.

Openers Mark Hooper and Alex Milton found the going tough as Tahir Naqash and Bilal Choudhry bowled well at the start of the BGCC innings. Milton fell for a duck as he was caught by a diving Daniel Choudhry at point off his brother’s bowling. 3 for 1 became 17 for 2 as Alex Hepburn edged one to keeper Renrick Hooper for 9 to give Bilal Choudhry his second wicket. Hooper and new batsman Mark Hardinges had taken the score to 38 before Hardinges was also caught behind for 11 off Tahir. Adam Dovey joined Hooper and this pairing worked hard against some tight bowling from Kuldeep Diwan, making slow and steady progress.

Anjum joined the attack and both the spinners put pressure on the Green batsman. Hooper survived being dropped twice before he was trapped lbw by Anjum for a hard fought 27, this brought Captain Andy Ford to the crease and he immediately tried to up the run rate. He had hit a quick 24 off 26 balls and had taken the score to 128 when he was caught behind to give Diwan reward for his fine bowling. This left the Green needing 51 off 11 overs with 5 wickets remaining.  Dannie Rees joined Adam Dovey with batting becoming increasingly difficult. Anjum took his second wicket as Adam Dovey gave keeper Hooper his fourth catch – dismissed for 37. His brother Jon Dovey came and went caught by Daniel Choudhry on cow corner boundary.

With the score on 135 for 7 with just under 8 overs to go the game was finely poised – BGCC needed 41 to win and Smethwick just three wickets. Rees and Ash Brewer rotated the strike and took singles edging closer before Diwan made a double breakthrough. First Brewer was stumped by Hooper for 7 then Rees was bowled for 11. This left Liam Smith and Blair Kingsland to survive 3 ˝ overs to save the game. The pair played out the remaining overs well taking the Green to 155 for 9 and 7 points - Smethwick claimed 14 points to just edge ahead in the table.