OAs break their duck for 2011 at Harpenden III’s expense

SHL Division Three

Old Albanian 224-6

Harpenden III 145

OAs won by 79 runs

ON the St George’s School ground where Old Albanian CC played its first-ever game, on May 24, 1930, and 76 years after their previous visit, the modern-day successors of those OA pioneers achieved their first League win of the 2011 season on Saturday with a well-merited 79-run success over Harpenden III.

Home skipper Simon Wade asked the visitors to bat first on a damp, green wicket which offered lateral movement to Simon Murray, Guy Watts and the persistent Matthew Cooper. However, assisted by some good fortune with dropped catches, the OA top-order proved equally persistent and gave their side a decent platform, with David Rourke (53), Chris Dobson (28) and ‘keeper Zahid Karim (34) taking their side to 125-2.

A slight stumble followed as Cooper (3-34 off 16) deservedly took three quick wickets. OAs rallied strongly, though, as skipper Ravi Vijh (19) and Victor Stairmand (12*) played vital supporting roles to the star of the innings, Zahid Ali Khan, who blasted 61* off 38 balls to put OAs in the ascendancy at Tea, after a finale of 94 runs from the last 13 overs of their innings.

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In reply, Harpenden began hesitantly and were soon 23-3. Thereafter Vijh was imaginative in his use of the six-man OA attack, and with his field placings, as he sought the elusive victory. The key wicket was the durable Mark Fettes, dismissed for 32 by Stairmand (2-39) via Karim’s diving catch, on a day when OAs held all bar one of their chances. Nonetheless, thereafter it took two excellent, sharp catches by Ahsan Ali at short midwicket, off Khalil Rehman (3-15), to complete the job - the second of which, to dismiss Harpenden ‘keeper Goodwin, ended the match with just nine balls to spare.