Letchworth get derby joy but miss out on finals day place with loss to Welwyn
- Credit: DANNY LOO
Letchworth had a derby success over Preston to savour as competitive cricket returned but their run to the Herts County T20 Cup finals day ended against an Owais Shah-inspired Welwyn Garden City.
The former England and Middlesex star had already smashed 70 in 36 balls to see of Bishop's Stortford in the first of the day's games at Digswell Park before slogging another 75 in just 32 balls, seven of them going for six, to put Letchworth in a pretty pickle.
It gave Welwyn a mammoth total of 217-3 and in response the Whitethorn Lane side never really threatened the target, but did well to reach 147 with 30 from Liam Bishton and 29 for Sam Kendle.
With the ball Praveen Bhatti had given Letchworth a perfect start, dismissing Mo Rizvi second ball, while George Crouch also had Alex Chalker caught behind inside the powerplay.
The pair had also been involved in their first game of the day, a nail-biting four-run win over rivals Preston.
They needed to be on top of their game too as the garden city side were defending a score of 125-8.
They had recovered from 30-4 thanks to a partnership of 52 from Dave Albon and Bishton.
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The latter went for 30 shortly before the former finished on 26 and some late hitting from Harry Aitkenhead and Joe Randall helped them to their final total.
A brilliant opening spell from Jonny Harris, whose four overs yielded just eight runs, put the pressure on Preston and Aitkenhead took 2-20 in the middle overs.
The spin duo of Albon and Crouch kept things tight but it came down to 14 required from the final over.
That's when Bhatti held his nerve, taking the crucial wicket of Tim Collins for 43 before closing out the game for the win.
Letchworth's Sunday team got their Bedfordshire League season off to a winning start with a thumping 10-wicket win over Eversholt.
Chasing 200 to win following 3-22 from Gurjeet Singh, the opening pair of George and Macaulay Denman made light work of the challenge.
George finished on 106 not out with his cousin Macaulay unbeaten on 86.
The start of the Herts Cricket League season on Saturday sees Letchworth open against Old Owens at home while Preston go to Hemel Hempstead Town.