FOUR wickets apiece for Brinder Phagura and Junead Zaman plus a half-century from Blake Maher saw Kenilworth Wardens to a four-wicket win over local rivals Leamington in the Birmingham Premier League.
The seam duo, who found a damp Arlington Avenue pitch to their liking, sent the hosts packing in the 52nd over for 152. Maher’s powerful 56 then saw the visitors home in the 37th over despite the best efforts of Neil Smith, who also claimed four wickets.
Phagura’s first season in Wardens colours has already delivered 22 league wickets, and he was quickly into his stride after Leamington had been inserted in bowler-friendly conditions.
The hosts’ middle order all got starts, but none of Nick Couzens (29), Jonny Wigley (22) or skipper Lee Hopkins (39) were able to go on to a big score, as Phagura’s accuracy and some excellent swing bowling from Zaman (4 for 31) maintained a tight grip on proceedings.
Basit Zaman’s leg spin then kept the lower order in check, and as a result Leamington’s last six wickets added only 54 runs. Phagura finished with 4 for 38, while Wardens distinguished themselves in the field by holding catches to dismiss all ten home batsmen.
Nick Seager’s typically breezy 31 then got Wardens’ chase off to a good start, and with Keith Bell (23) and Maher in residence at 98 for two, a comfortable away win seemed likely.
However, former Warwickshire skipper Smith showed he has lost few of his skills, and he removed both batsmen on his way to a fine 4 for 16 return from 12 excellent overs of off-spin.
However, the visitors were not to be denied, as Phagura completed a fine all-round match by seeing Wardens home with an unbeaten 17. Aussie all-rounder Maher’s 56 included seven fours and two sixes, while Tom Warner claimed 2 for 65 for Leamington.
This result lifts Wardens into fourth place in the Birmingham Premier League table as the season approaches its midpoint, and extends their recent run of good form, while Leamington rooted at the bottom, 35 points adrift of Walmley.