CRICKET - Rugby back on winning trail at Stratford - The Rugby Observer
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9th Aug, 2022

CRICKET - Rugby back on winning trail at Stratford

RUGBY CC returned to winning ways with a confident five-wicket win at Stratford to leapfrog their opponents into sixth place in the Warwickshire Cricket League Premier Division.

Wes Landsdale won the toss for Rugby and chose to bowl first only for opposite number Dexter Purser to get the hosts off to a quick start.

The score had moved quickly to 31 when Lee Golding removed Purser (24) in the seventh over and this wicket slowed the scoring rate down as Rugby’s seam bowlers took control.

Neal McGrath’s (3-51) excellent season continued when he took the next three wickets to fall to reduce Stratford to 56-4.

Gareth Langman and Josh Colewell steadied the ship for a while, but Owen Edwards trapped Langman (18) lbw in his first over.

Edwards (2-21) and Kasir Shah (2-26) shared four wickets, including Shah snaring Colwell (29) to leave Startford in real trouble at 115-8.

However, Stratford’s tail end put up strong resistance thanks to James Urquhart (30 not out) and Tom Grundy (30) who added 40 for the ninth wicket.

Golding and James Nuttall finally took the last two wickets for Rugby, but the lower order efforts had propelled Stratford to a respectable 178.

Rugby’s reply started disastrously when Henry Parker was run out without facing a ball in the first over, but Hugh Cochrane and Jeevan Barhey set about laying a good foundation for the run chase.

They shared a 56-run stand, before Barhey (24) departed lbw to Colwell before in-form run machine Landsdale joined Cochrane in another fluent partnership.

Although Cochrane (47) was caught at point with the score on 101, Rugby never looked in too much trouble, with George Mackenzie (36) continuing their march to victory.

A couple of late wickets fell to Grundy, but Landsdale (68 not out) struck three boundaries in four balls to seal the 20-point win in the 42nd over.

However, Rugby’s 2nd XI suffered a disappointing defeat to Streetly in Division Five at Webb Ellis Road to drop to fourth in the table.

Skipper Bhavik Rathod was asked to bowl first after losing the toss and took an early wicket as Rugby struggled to make a breakthrough thereafter until the introduction of spin pair Murali Natarajan (3-35) and Amaan Shah (2-35).

The duo bowled with great control and ripped through the middle order to reduce Streetly to 131-6, although opposition captain David Yeend was in a stubborn mood and anchored the innings for his side.

He was joined by Aman Rai who made 28 to boost Streetly to 211-8 in their 50 overs with Yeend dismissed in the final over for 90.

Rugby were confident of chasing down the total, but disaster struck as Stuart Lloyd was dismissed for a duck in the first over and he was soon joined by Rathod and Alex Watson who both fell cheaply.

In-form Charlie Robards was uncharacteristically out, caught at mid-off, to leave Rugby on 26-4 and things went from bad to worse as opening bowler Mayan Patel continued to run amok, reducing the home side to 45-8 on his way to a well-deserved five wicket haul.

Rugby finally showed some resistance as the bottom three, Ben Haworth, Natarajan and Shah dug in to take Rugby past three figures – Haworth top scoring with 26 as the innings ended on 104, meaning defeat by 107 runs for the hosts.

In Division Eight South Central, Rugby’s 3rd XI moved up to second in the table with a solid victory against Olton and West Warwickshire.

Olton won the toss and elected to bat, but were soon struggling as Theo Nelson dismissed both openers cheaply in an opening spell of 3-38 from 10 overs.

Rugby continued to take regular wickets with only Graeme Plaistow (48) showing any resistance for the home side.

He was finally dismissed by Tom Rigby (2-20), whilst veteran Rubans Sugathurabans cleaned up the tail to finish with 2-14, as Olton were all out for 167 in the 44th over.

Rugby’s reply got off to a poor start as classy opening pair Kieran Vaghela and Keval Rathod fell in quick succession.

However, this brought Scunthorpe-born Liam Hebblewhite to the crease who seemed in the mood for runs from the get-go.

He crashed thirteen boundaries on his way to a career best unbeaten 68 and was well supported by youngster Advay Pophali (19) and gung-ho skipper Max Johnson (27).

Olton threatened a fightback with some late wickets but Hebblewhite held his nerve to see Rugby home in the 33rd over for a four-wicket victory.

Lastly, in Division Nine South Cental, Rugby’s 4th XI survived a late collapse to secure a thrilling win against Bablake.

Bowling first, Euan Walker returned to action and immediately made an impact with 3/30 from his 10 overs, whilst debutant Chris Oliver (3-24) was equally effective.

John Keith (36) top scored in the Coventry side’s 149 all out, with Anil Oruganti taking 2-15 and a wicket each for Jag Barhey and Harry Heaven.

Rugby’s reply started badly with two wickets falling within the first nine balls and only one run on the board.

Ram Singh Kumar (52) and Sajjad Hussain (45) soon turned things around with some aggressive batting.

Even after their dismissals, Rugby were cruising at 135-3, before six wickets fell for just 16 runs and it was left to number 11 Matt Raffell to strike the winning run.

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