Hitchin extend lead in title race as challengers Broxbourne are beaten
- Credit: KARYN HADDON
Hitchin re-established another healthy advantage at the top of Herts Cricket League Division One after winning away to nearest challengers Broxbourne.
They now lead new second-place side Leverstock Green by 39 points after the 19-run win, a result which drops Broxbourne down to third.
With rain in the air batting was expected to be tricky and it was Hitchin who were up first to prove that.
A slow methodical start saw Hitching reach 73 before Luke Day became the second man out for a respectable 39.
And the innings continue its slow progression with wickets falling at regular intervals.
Shaftab Khalid was the only other batsman to top 20, finally ending his 98-ball stay at the crease on 42, but the general consensus at the interval was despite the difficulties posed for batsmen, Broxbourne had bowled well to restrict Hitchin to 174.
But the visitors came back out in a positive frame of mind and the Broxbourne innings followed a similar pattern with only eight runs scored in the first five overs.
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Sam Rippington ended a first-wicket partnership of 34 but despite another solid opening, Broxbourne too struggled to get a big score with only three getting above 20 and the top score being that of opener Gagan Dissanayake.
But with the game heading for another close finish, Hitchin kept the pressure on and they clinched a very important win in the penultimate over, Kahlid adding 4-29 and the man of the match award to his earlier runs.
Rippington bagged another wicket for 2-32 while Luke Day managed 2-30.
At the other end of the Division One table though it continues to be a struggle for Ickleford who lost at home to Levy Green by six wickets.
There too there was a difficult wicket for batsmen but the home side did make a good start with Duncan Jenner (18) and Sammy Fookes (29) adding 60 for the first wicket.
There was 32 later on for Matt Baxter and 15 not out for Pretam Rayat too but none of the middle order reached double figures and Ickleford finished on 139-9 after their 50 overs.
They did look to have made the best of starts with two wickets before a run was scored but the new challengers to Hitchin's place at the top of the standings dug in and batted perfectly and they reached their target with a few overs to spare.
Ickleford's seconds lost at Knebworth Park despite posting their highest score of the season.
James Dermont top scored with 51 and there were late contributions from Sam Giggle (41) and Richard Peareth (30*) in the total of 203.
Fakhar Islam then continued his good form with four wickets while Scot Crouch took two but Park got home with four wickets and 10 overs to spare.
The thirds lost at St Margaretsbury by eight wickets.
Dave Pursey (55) and Mark Howard (45) put on 74 for the first wicket but they were undone by some aggressive batting and dropped catches.