Stevenage leave Sawbo in a spin

PUBLISHED: 15:34 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:32 05 May 2010

Stevenage completed a resounding nine-wicket victory on the road at Sawbridgeworth to consolidate third place in the league. And they continue to challenge for runners-up spot behind the runaway league leaders Potters Bar. Stevenage lost the toss and were

Stevenage completed a resounding nine-wicket victory on the road at Sawbridgeworth to consolidate third place in the league.

And they continue to challenge for runners-up spot behind the runaway league leaders Potters Bar.

Stevenage lost the toss and were asked to bowl first on a wicket that everyone from Sawbo stated would start out difficult for batting and get harder as the day progressed.

With this doom-laden soothsaying ringing in their ears, the Sawbo batters set about their task as if the pitch was a minefield and a total of 150 would be 50 too many for Stevenage to chase.

Runciman and Ashman made a reasonable start, but rode their luck early, particularly the former who was dropped at second slip on nought and eventually made 32 with most of them coming off the edge or going in the opposite direction to where he was aiming.

Amit Dattani was the man to make the initial breakthrough with Ashman driving into his pad and lobbing a catch to Navin Seneviratne under the lid at silly mid-off.

A dreadfully slow partnership followed for the second wicket, which set the tone for the rest of the innings, before Birch finally decided enough was enough and charged Dattani only to miss completely and turn around just in time to see the bails hit the ground as David Carr completed the stumping.

With Tanweer Sikandar getting no help from a dead wicket, Azhar Ali was introduced and he picked up a brace of wickets before the lunch interval to leave Sawbo on 84-4 from 42 overs.

Ali trapped Rudkin leg before and ended Runciman's stubborn resistance with a straightforward caught and bowled.

With only 18 overs of the innings left after lunch, Stevenage were prepared for a tougher session in the field, with the West Indian Richardson and the experienced Burrell at the wicket, but it never materialised.

Burrell was clean bowled by Ali for a duck and Dattani repeated the dose to Greenall before a late flurry from Richardson (30) and Reed (20) added some respectability to the total.

Both men fell to aggressive shots, Nas Ahmed catching Richardson off Syed Ali Kazmi and Seneviratne holding on to a steepler at deep mid-wicket off Ali.

These wickets left the tail exposed and the last two wickets fell with the score on 134, with Stevenage's three pronged spin attack doing the damage - Ali (23-11-25-5), Dattani (26-11-60-3) and Ali Kazmi (3-0-8-2).

While Sawbo batted like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights of a lorry, the Stevenage batsmen took on the role of the lorry and pretty much flattened all seven of the bowlers that were tried.

With clear instructions from their captain to bat positively at every opportunity, Sikandar and Gary Brown set the innings off to a flier.

Sikandar leaned into a classic cover drive for four off the pacy Richardson and then followed it up in the same over with a brutal drive over cover which landed inches inside the boundary before clanging off the side of the pavilion.

Brown also put his marker down early, latching on to a delivery from Cunningham in his first over that was marginally short of a length and thumping it over mid-wicket for four more.

Both men mixed solid defence with crowd pleasing aggression and between them cleared the boundary four times. Brown hoisted O'Donovan into the neighbouring gardens, as did Sikandar who then repeated the shot off Reed.

The best six of the day also came from Sikandar who picked up a delivery from Richardson off his legs and sent it sailing into the neighbouring tennis courts and the tennis players running for cover!

Cunningham was the only man to get any success for Sawbo as he slipped one through Brown's defences on 26, which meant Ashley Bayes joined Sikandar, but the run rate continued unabated.

Sikandar plundered a total of 11 fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 82 and Bayes finished on 21no with four boundaries to take Stevenage to victory in only 28 overs.

* All the other Stevenage sides from seconds to fifths are fighting for either promotion or to avoid relegation - and they had mixed fortunes in the Saracens Herts League.

The second team's total turned out to be 20 runs short as they set Eversholt a 167 target.

Barry Hann's leg-spinners nearly surprised the visitors with three late wickets, but dropped catches cost the team dear. They now need two wins to avoid relegation.

The third XI put in a poor batting display against one of the weaker sides in the division and now sit one place off promotion and need results to go their way.

The fourths, in the fourth promotion spot with two matches to go, cruised to victory after dismissing Cockfosters for 146. Suman Iranganti (14-3-32-5) did the main damage and with Craig Whitworth scoring a faultless 76, Stevenage won with 10 overs to spare.

But the fifths were bowled out for 100 and still require a few points to be safe from relegation.

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