Shenley topple league leaders

Dion Ebrahim’s side record 11-run victory over Reed

SHL Division Two

Shenley Village 218-9

Reed 207

Shenley Village won by 11 runs

SHENLEY Village emerged the last-gasp winners of a hard-fought, absorbing and extremely tense encounter away at Reed, who were top of the Division Two table at the start of the day.

The toss was won by Shenley, who decided to bat first. Reed’s opening bowler Jack Tidey, getting the ball to swing, was causing a few problems for the batsmen from the start.

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In the fifth over the opening wicket came as the Tidey family struck in tandem - with Jack having Charlie Thurston caught behind by his brother Sean.

Meanwhile, fellow opener Tharic Sameem had taken more of a liking to Graham Wilson’s bowling at the other end - hitting a 6 off his first ball and going on to compile a rapid 24 before he too fell victim to Tidey; caught at square leg.

At the start of the next over, a further wicket fell as Shenley captain Dion Ebrahim was caught behind for 1; his rare failure left the visitors on a precarious 33-3. Lloyd Willingham and Anooj Vadgama then set about rebuilding the innings.

The pair were going well and had seen off Tidey, who as an U19 could only bowl seven-over spells, when Willingham was run out for 25 in a mishap which saw both batsmen at the same end. Vadgama went on to top-score with 46 before he was caught at gully off spinner Tom Greaves.

At 126-6, a competitive total looked in doubt. However, Shenley’s strength in depth came to their rescue with all the middle and lower order contributing some valuable runs. In particular, a 48-run partnership from their final pair made a vital difference.

Rifkhan Hameed was dropped in the penultimate over and took advantage of his reprieve by hitting two 6s in the final over in a crucial unbeaten 31 as he repeated his heroics of the previous year when he had scored 61 batting at No.9 against the same opposition to set up a victory, while Craig Rawlings ended on 16* to take Shenley to a total of 218-9 after 53 overs.

Tidey took 2-50, while Greaves ended with 4-90, having bowled a 20-over spell.

The Reed reply got off to a swift start. Despite losing two early wickets they were scoring at nearly seven-an-over and their opening batsman, James Heslam, was looking comfortably set in for a long stay at the crease.

Shenley perhaps left their opening seamers on a little too long and it was the introduction of medium-pacer Jemile Al-Darraji and off-spinner Ebrahim who managed to slow things down a little. Chris Jackson (25) was trapped lbw by Ebrahim in the 21st over, to leave Reed at 116-3.

The big breakthrough finally came 14 overs later, as Heslam was eventually dismissed when tantalisingly short of his century - caught and bowled for 97 by Ebrahim, who made a lightning-quick dive to send his opposite number back to the pavilion. But despite this important wicket, Reed were still looking clear favourites at this stage, on 168-4 and with 12 overs remaining. But just a couple of overs later, with the home side now reduced to 190-6, the scene was set for an exciting and nail biting finish.

The seventh wicket fell in the 41st over, as Jack Tidey was removed by a great catch at backward square leg from Rifkhan Hameed off the bowling of Ebrahim.

Just two runs later he was joined back in the pavilion by his brother, who was again caught by Hameed; this time off Al-Darraji, to further reduce Reed to 203-8. But even at this stage, 11 runs to win from the remaining five overs still looked a likely prospect for the hosts. However, Shenley had other ideas and the tail had no response as Ebrahim and Al-Darraji gave nothing away.

Al-Darraji hit the stumps of Graham Wilson in the 44th over for a duck, which took the score to 205-9 - leaving Reed needing 14 to win from three overs.

With both sides desperate for a win to keep their respective promotion aims on track, the tension was palpable as the next over only produced a single run to add to the tally. By now, surviving for a draw seemed a likely outcome but Shenley were having none of it.

Another single was taken in the penultimate over before death bowling specialist Al-Darraji struck the fatal blow, bowling last man Peckett to snatch victory with seven balls to spare. Ebrahim took an impressive 5-39 while Al-Darraji finished with 3-28.

This hugely entertaining game of cricket - which had all the ingredients of a great match and even had a short diversion provided by a family of duck and ducklings waddling across the pitch - earned Shenley 30 valuable points.

Ebrahim’s side remain in fifth place while Reed dropped to second. Shenley host bottom club Redbourn on Saturday with a 1pm start.