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Match 04 2023: May 25

Highgate Irregulars CC vs Pimlico Strollers CC

Strollers hold nerve to nab T20 win over HICCs
posted: May 26, 2023

Strollers vs Highgate Irregulars, 25 May 2023

After Sunday’s abject display at Southgate, we happily got back to winning ways yesterday evening as we held our nerve in a tense finish to trump old foes the Highgate Irregulars in our first T20 match of the season.

With Ally Pally bathed in the evening sun, the oppo generously agreed to let us bat first with several of our number straggling to arrive in time for the 6pm start. Our team was thankfully bolstered by a number of friends and work colleagues who more than helped make up the numbers and one such ringer, Hemanth, made an immediate impact with the bat opening our innings and carding a quickfire 30 before edging to Steve Gray off Muhammad (another ringer playing for the HICCs).

Our middle order struggled with the exception of Tim – turning out for the first time this season – who looked in great touch as he worked the ball round with ease. With Satyaki, Spencer and Connor all falling around him for not very many, concern mounted that we might crumble to another low score. Thankfully skipper Harry put things to rights as he joined Tim to take the attack to the opposition in the latter half of our innings, taking us to the hundred mark and beyond.

Having made it to 29, Harry chipped one to Alex Gray lurking in the covers but Tim ploughed on undeterred supported by Harshit and looked all set to notch up a maiden T20 half century until the final over he tragically played down the wrong line to Tony Mitchell and was bowled for 47 …a fine knock nonetheless. Gav arrived late to the party and casually batted back the last couple of deliveries to close our innings on a respectable if not earth-shattering 145-6.

We knew that defending that total would require discipline and, thankfully, that was exactly what we got from our opening attack – Harshit bowling with fierce pace and accuracy with ringer Neeraj also finding an excellent length and line from the get go. Scoring opportunities were so scarce that by the sixth over the HICCs score had only just crept into the low twenties and opener Al Andrews (guesting from the Bohos) generously retired to make way for the far more threatening Alex Gray in an attempt to light the touch paper to their innings.

With the change of personnel, the oppo’s other opener Diyen took his cue to up the stakes himself and hoiked a huge six off James Bingham (a mate of Tim’s from work) who had been brought on first change. His progress was halted through just a couple of deliveries later when a thick edge was well held by Hamanth who made good ground from cover point to take our first wicket.

This brought Tony Mitchell to the middle and we all knew that if the Irregulars were to win this one, it would depend on the success of this partnership with Alex. Our fears of a counter attack were well founded as Gray Jnr repeatedly piled on the boundaries to the leg side and the HICCs total started to climb rapidly as we changed ends for the final phase of the match.

Spencer and Harry came on to bowl at the death and hearts were in mouths as Alex lobbed a huge straight drive up to long on where Connor ran round, positioned himself beautifully …and shelled it. Yikes – was that the game gone right there? The tension mounted further when Ali looked to have skillfully saved four runs from Alex at deep cover only for those manning the scoreboard to mark up the boundary regardless  (despite no signal from umpiring Rob Archdale) …a few verbals later and the score was duly corrected. Alex, sportingly insisting we put it behind us, carried on regardless and deservedly notched up his fifty and took his team’s total into three figures.

With the pressure on it was fitting then that it was captain Harry himself who matters into his own hands to wrest back control of the game. Firstly, he managed to skid one under Tony’s bat to break what was becoming an ominous 2nd wicket stand. Next ball, he cleaned out Faisal’s stumps. Sadly the hat trick didn’t quite happen but though the HICCs ringer Muhammad managed to whack a couple of lusty blows over the boundary to keep pace with Alex, he too fell as Harry clattered one through to claim his third wicket.

The oppo might have needed 20 from their final two overs but as long as Alex remained in the middle there was always a chance. With HICCs skipper Yogesh fresh at the crease, Spencer conceded only two from the penultimate over and set the stage for the conclusion with the oppo needing 18 for victory.

All looked rosy with only a single conceded from the first two deliveries, then Harry seemed to suffer an alarming attack of the yips, firstly with a wide and then by sending down a loose one that Alex hoisted massively over the straight boundary. Surely they couldn’t steal this? Nails were chewed to the cuticles as two further wides followed but mercifully that was where the drama stopped. With the final dot ball we let out a collective sigh of relief with the HICCs just 8 runs adrift of their target …we had squeaked it.

Any earlier discord was thankfully cast aside as we walked off to warm handshakes and congratulations from the Irregulars, magnanimous as always and we made our way to the Ally Pally bar to sink a few beers and reflect on a really great game. They could franchise this stuff, you know…

Gavin Richardson

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