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Wednesday 19 September 2012 Updated: 19/09 18:09
RELIEF was the over-riding emotion at Glasshouse Park on Saturday evening, as Kenilworth Wardens retained their Birmingham League Division One status with a comprehensive 90 run win over Smethwick.
Unsurprisingly, it was their long-serving all-rounder Sitanshu Kotak whose icy temperament stood up strongest.
The Indian ace ended his 17th Wardens’ season with a fine half-century, followed by a typically frugal bowling display, which strangled the life out of mid-table Smethwick’s run chase.
This result, plus Old Hill’s maximum point return at Whitchurch, meant it was Wardens’ local rivals Coventry who slipped into Division Two, following their defeat at newly-promoted Walmley.
Nonetheless, after a very disappointing campaign, in which a talented group of players massively under-delivered, the Glasshouse Park club were left with much to ponder as they move into 2013 under the stewardship of new captain Martin Donald, and his deputy Keith Bell.
Fittingly, after four tough years at the helm, it was outgoing skipper Scott Stenning who joined Kotak in the day’s defining partnership.
The pair came together after Bell (20) and Robin de Regt (27) had given the hosts a solid start, and proceeded to add 131 for the third wicket.
The former India A star crafted a typically workmanlike 70 from 83 balls, while his captain’s 58 included six boundaries.
This left the stage clear for a late flurry from Donald, who struck four fours and a six in his 19-ball 37, as the hosts defied a tidy spell from left arm paceman Zafran Ali (1-46 from 17 overs) to post a formidable 239 for 6.
The visitors were soon struggling at 29 for 3 as veteran trundler Paul Henderson struck twice with the new ball.
Former Coventry batsman Vik Sodhi delayed the inevitable with a battling 89-ball 59, but Kotak (3-38) and fellow slow left-armer Dan Vernon (3-37) combined to good effect on a helpful surface to polish Smethwick off in the 49th over for 149.
Khizar Zaman’s brilliant unbeaten ton guided Berkswell 2nds to a five wicket win over their Kenilworth Wardens counterparts, on the final day of the Birmingham League season.
After surviving a very good lbw shout before getting off the mark, Berkswell’s skipper timed the ball superbly through the off side, to dominate his team’s response to the visitors 164 for 9.
Zaman’s patient third wicket alliance with Adil Khan (19) rebuilt the home innings after both openers had fallen cheaply.
He then launched an aggressive counter-attack in the later stages of the match, to finish unbeaten on exactly 100, and form a match-clinching partnership with Dan Neale (20no).
Nick Whiting (2-42) was the pick of an otherwise off-colour Wardens attack.
Earlier, teenager Harry Johnson (37) and Paul Smith (20) had added 61 for the visitors first wicket.
Rookie wrist-spinner Mohammed Ahmed (4-43) and Zaman (3-28) then destroyed their middle order before Sam Ballinger (29) and Jack Sorrell (17no) batted fluently to take Wardens past 160.
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