Harpenden fall just short despite strong middle order display

Dan Blacktopp 2009

Dan Blacktopp 2009 - Credit: Archant

HARPENDEN fell 16 agonising runs short of Burnham’s total in their first loss of the season.

The loss sees Nick Lamb’s side slip into the bottom half of the league but with only two games play there is no need to panic. In fact Harpenden can take a lot of positives from the game, mainly the performance of the middle order batsmen.

Numbers five through to eight – Mike Howard, Will Jones, James Pankhurst and Simon White – accounted for 119 of Harpenden’s 223 runs.

With Dan Blacktopp scoring a half century at the top of the order, Harpenden have a batting attack to rival the best in the division.

The bowling attack was nothing to scoff either on Saturday. After Burnham had won the toss and decided to bat, Joe Peck skittle the first wicket of the day, removing Rezwan Nadeem (2) with four runs on the board.

Richard Brabner (2-58) got in on the action dismissing numbers two and three – Hamzah Khan (12) and Mohammed Fazal (17) to leave Burnham’s innings finely balanced at 44-3.

Unfortunately for Lamb it was the hosts who responded. Aftab Khan (57) and Kuran Kumar (29) put together an 83-run fourth-wicket stand to swing the moment in Burnham’s favour before the latter was caught by Peck off Simon White’s bowling.

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Kumar’s dismissal brought Harveer Gandam to the crease and he and Khan added 19 more runs before the dangerous Khan was removed by Howard.

The sixth wicket fell quickly after – Howard doubling his tally for the day – to give Harpenden hope of a very catchable total. However, Gandam (51no) built partnerships of 50 and 25 with Shaid Nadeem (24) and Roseum Samuel (10no) respectively to give Harpenden an intimidating run chase.

Last week Harpenden needed just 34 runs to beat Potters Bar in the season opener so time at the wicket was much-needed. Therefore the game couldn’t have started better as Blacktopp and Gregg Cooper – captain for the game in place of Lamb – put up 40 runs for the first wicket.

Cooper (9) was followed to the clubhouse by James Latham (7) who was caught by Samuel.

Blacktopp (59) and Chad Breetzke (17) pushed the score up to 90 but both were removed by Khan with seven runs of one another to leave the innings at 97-4.

In a remarkable middle-order display Howard (25), Jones (25), Pankhurst (35no) and White (34) had Harpenden at 214-7 and within touching distance of the win.

The tail-end, however, did not hold up their end of the bargain, putting up just two runs as Pankhurst ran out of partners 17 runs short of victory.

Harpenden will look for their second win of the season on Saturday when they welcome High Wycombe to the Common. 11am start.