Stevenage v Hertford
AMIDST a regular scattering of morning and early afternoon spells of drizzle both sides and the umpires did their best to complete a meaningful and uninterrupted game. In the end only two overs were lost from each innings and while being a meaningful cont
AMIDST a regular scattering of morning and early afternoon spells of drizzle both sides and the umpires did their best to complete a meaningful and uninterrupted game.
In the end only two overs were lost from each innings and while being a meaningful contest as a result, it never really came to the boil and was low on tension with a draw looking favourite for the last hour.
Stevenage batted first and an 80 run opening stand between Tanweer Sikandar (38) and Gary Brown, settled any concerns Stevenage may have had about the new ball in cloudy, humid conditions.
Ashley Bayes went without scoring but Brown kicked on with Nas Ahmed in support sharing a 62 run partnership. Brown took three consecutive fours from Ruskin in one over and in another planted him into Ditchmore Lane for six, but Ruskin eventually got his revenge trapping him lbw for a well constructed 70.
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However, with Ruskin the only bowler looking likely to cause any significant problems for the Stevenage batsmen, Ahmed built solidly on his good start. He received good support from Syed Ali Kazmi (17) and then Navin Seneviratne (19) who timed the ball exquisitely before holing out on the boundary as he looked to keep the run rate rising.
By this time the 200 was up and Ahmed had moved past his 50 with an outside chance of posting a century. He lost Barry Hann runout, backing up for five and with a couple of overs remaining put on 17 with David Carr (5not out) to end unbeaten on a classy 90.
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The final score of 257-6 represented a decent effort by Stevenage and with Hertford in need of points as much as Stevenage, but for different reasons, the game seemed set up for an exciting finish.
Hertford's fourth over should have yielded Stevenage's first wicket but an outside edge from an Amit Dattani delivery that was held by Carr behind the stumps was turned down and this seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.
A leg-side stumping chance went begging off Dattani, who bowled well, but with no luck in his 16 overs, a thick edge from Sikandar was put down low in front of first slip and Hann spilled a chance at backward point again off Sikandar, all before Stevenage took their first wicket.
This eventually fell to Sikandar who found Riddle's leading edge and presented a simple catch for Bayes at mid-on. A further outfield catch was dropped before the tea break as Stevenage's fielders were uncharacteristically lethargic given their exploits in all their previous games.
The last ball before tea represented a potential turning point, though, as Bancroft leg glanced Azhar Ali, only for Carr to take a fine catch and send Stevenage into the break with some renewed hope and impetus with Hertford 70-2.
On the restart, the belligerent batting of Chris Box and the brutal but simple approach of Sri Lankan Dias blunted Stevenage's attack as they shared 77 runs.
But with Box going lame towards the end of this and needing a runner there were a number of chaotic moments that eventually ended in Hann and Carr running out Dias for 43.
This wicket at 148-3 seemed to herald the end of Hertford's run chase despite a Gordon Greenidge-esque innings of 85 from the incapacitated Box.
Stevenage shared the bowling around, with spells from Scott Davies and a very unlucky two overs from Seneviratne who saw a catch spilled at mid-wicket and then another at mid-on to top off an un-satisfactory fielding display from Stevenage.
Box and Ruskin had guided Hertford to safety and in reach of a bonus point for 200 when still operating with a runner, Box was a victim of a runout this one the result of some sharp cover fielding by Bayes who picked up cleanly and hurled in a throw to score a direct hit on the one stump he had to aim at.
Hertford's 195-4 was turned into 203-4 by the end of the last over of the game, in which neither team did enough to deserve to win.