A SOLID team display, headlined by three wickets apiece for Sitanshu Kotak and Dan Wood, brought Kenilworth Wardens a winning draw from their clash with Birmingham League Division One table-toppers Wombourne on Saturday.
This result saw Scott Stenning’s team bank 14 valuable points, but fall frustratingly short of a maximum 24-point haul in the face of some defiant batting from the visitors’ tail.
Last man Jack Ellis groped and missed three times in the course of Kotak’s final over, but narrowly avoided offering the chance that would have delivered relegation-threatened Wardens their second win of the season.
Despite enjoying the best of the batting conditions, under a drying sun, Wombourne never seriously threatened the hosts’ 179 for 9, closing 24 runs short of victory on 145 for 9.
Mike Hill battled hard for his 135-ball 74 but received precious little support against an accurate home attack.
Hill shared in a 51-run fourth wicket partnership with Jon Smith 11 but his team never looked likely to recover from the loss of three early wickets to seamer Wood, who finished with the fine figures of 3-14 from 12 overs.
Once Kotak (3-31) had worked his way through the middle order and James Jordan finally found a way past Hill’s defences, Wombourne were forced to battle hard for survival.
Earlier, useful contributions from Wardens’ top order enabled them to post a competitive score after being inserted on a wet surface.
Keith Bell 36 got the innings off to a solid start, before Kotak 23 combined with Stenning 45 to add 60 for the third wicket.
Andy Whitehall 20 and and Dan Vernon 37 contributed a breezy 55-run fifth wicket partnership, before both fell to Liam Hughes, who finished with 4-53.
Veteran trundler Nick Whiting grabbed 4-21 as Wardens 2nd’-s claimed a nervy 27 run victory at picturesque Eastnor.
With the help of a remarkable match-clinching, one-handed catch from Sam White, the tall seamer’s second spell proved too much for the hosts’ tail, as they slumped to 140 all out in 38.5 overs, in response to Wardens’ 167 for 9.
Eastnor’s aggressive approach to combatting a difficult, damp surface met with mixed success against the visitors’ five man attack.
Although Josh Emery smashed his way to an entertaining 45 and fellow opening bowler Tom Hurrell (25) and Amjad Mahmood (19) both also cleared the ropes, they required two bad dropped catches to stay in contention against some accurate bowling.
Leg-spinner Tom Ballinger claimed 3-25, including the key wicket of Emery, before Whiting’s second spell claimed the three crucial scalps that sealed Wardens’ 24-point return.
Before tea, the visitors took a more measured approach to batting, as useful contributions from skipper James Madley 25, Sunjay Sharma 30, Sam Ballinger 31 and Paul Smith 21 steered them to 123 for 2 with 12 overs remaining.
However, a collapse set in against off-spinners Naseer and Dawud, who claimed three wickets apiece, before Whiting and Jack Vickery added 25 crucial runs for the final wicket.
A superb unbroken opening stand of 184 between Nick Lewis and Harry Johnson steered Wardens 4ths to a comfortable 93 run friendly win over Leek Wootton 2nds.
Veteran Lewis’ unbeaten 83 included ten boundaries, while teenager Johnson stroked five fours in his accomplished 73. Seamer Rob Hammett (0-19 from eight overs) was the pick of the six-man Wootton attack.
The visitors’ top order made a bright start through Roger Jenkins 19 and Simon Charlton 28, but once leg-spinner Ben Rex dismissed the latter, plus Andy Boylin 15, their tail collapsed to 91 all out in only 22 overs.
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