Sikandar tans Hemel attack

Stevenage got their Home Counties Premier League season off to the best possible start with a comprehensive eight-wicket victory at home against Hemel Hempstead. A gorgeous May day and cracking early season pitch saw Hemel win the toss and decide to bat f

Stevenage got their Home Counties Premier League season off to the best possible start with a comprehensive eight-wicket victory at home against Hemel Hempstead.

A gorgeous May day and cracking early season pitch saw Hemel win the toss and decide to bat first.

But they reckoned without an exceptional spell of swing and seam bowling from Tanweer Sikandar (3-12 in 10 overs).

Sikandar, moving the ball both into and away from the batters, tore the heart out of the top order.

The pressure applied by Sikandar was built on by Amit Dattani who teased out the fourth wicket with only 30 on the board.

The first of two rearguard actions led by Hodgins (44) followed but the cricketing nous available to Stevenage was too much to allow either to get out of control.

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Azhar Ali (3-50 in 19 overs) carried on the good work and a run out saw Hemel looking dead and buried at 110-8.

Only a fortuitous 48 from Collman enabled Hemel to scrape past 150 before their luck ran out and Syed Ali Kazmi's tight lines yielded consecutive leg before decisions to end the innings on 158.

This never looked enough and after overcoming the early loss of Gary Brown, Sikandar and Ashley Bayes shared an impressive 106-run partnership.

Sikandar batted imperiously from the moment he dispatched his first delivery for four through cover point and with Bayes picking off the loose balls and rotating the strike, Hemel were made to suffer.

When Bayes was eventually dismissed for 30, a Stevenage victory was in the bag, with only 48 required and Sikandar in cruise control on 70.

However, the nature of the final victory proved something special for the spectators soaking up the sun as Sikandar slipped into overdrive in pursuit of an unlikely century.

With impeccable technique and timing he launched ball after ball to the boundary, going to his hundred with a boundary four and then next ball finishing the game in style with a towering six, to end unbeaten on 106.

* Stevenage maintained their 100 per cent record in the Millman Sunday League with a hard-fought victory over Houghton Town.

Batting first, Navin Seneviratne (66) and Laurie Brown (28) shared a good third-wicket partnership.

The other half century of the game went to Barry Turner who made a welcome return to his home club with 60. His innings was well supported by Adil Zargar (27) and Jack Mitchell (21) which boostemd the Stevenage total to 247 from 45 overs.

In Houghton's reply, Seneviratne's leg-spin ensured the wickets kept tumbling and he finished with 4-31 in eight overs and fittingly took the last wicket.

At the other end, Danny Hanslow helped bring the curtain down on a 65-run Stevenage victory with two wickets in his three overs.

* The seconds lost by seven wickets to Waltham Cross Rosedale in the Saracens Herts League Division Three.

Andy Burroughes top scored with 45, while youngsters Scott Davies (30), Laurie Brown (29) and Chris Whitworth (26) all got started but failed to go on. The home side ran out easy winners as Stevenage's attack lacked any real penetration.

A superb opening partnership of 129 from Ian Brown (72) and Pratheeb Para (62) set the thirds on course for a big total against Datchworth seconds.

Phil Craven's 30 and a mature 30no from 15-year-old Jason Chapman pushed the total to 248-4 off 53 overs. Datchworth batted out for a draw on 150-6 off their 47 overs

The fourths scored 118-8 before bowling out Berkhamsted thirds for just 79. Fifteen-year-old Rhys Stewart (5-32 in 16 overs) was ably supported by Senthil Kumar (4-24 in 13 overs) as the visitors were in a spin.

The fifth team never came to terms with a difficult wicket and were all out for 55 after the last pair of visitors Ickleford thirds added 30 for their last wicket in posting 95.

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