05:30PM, Monday 23 May 2022
Hurley 1st XI achieved their first league win since August 7, 2021, with a hard-fought victory over Braywood 2nds at Shepherds Lane on Saturday.
With no 2nd XI fixture, the Hurley line up was bolstered by the addition of Phil Ridgeway and Josh Cole. On winning the toss, Yasir Gul invited the visitors to bat first and the opening pair of Mudassar Ali (62) and Kamrad Ahmed (22) set off as if they had a train to catch.
Ali had a lucky escape when a direct hit from Gurpreet Singh appeared to be good enough to run him out, but the Braywood player umpire at square-leg inexplicably ruled otherwise.
With the opening attack of Aman Singh and Manpreet Singh unable to make a breakthrough, Gul turned to the spin of Saeed Ajmal, and he struck in his first over to dismiss Ahmed at 55 for 1.
Ali and Adnan Bukhari continued to attack and a score in excess of 300 looked likely until Ajmal had Bukhari (21) caught at slip by Phil Ridgeway in the sixteenth over at 101 for 2.
Thereafter, the bowlers regained control and the visitors lost their last eight wickets for the addition of only 42 runs. The pace and swing of left-arm seamer Amit Kumar (3-32) accounted for Ali, caught in the deep by Manpreet, Shiny Johnston (LBW) and Saqib Amir (bowled). Ridgeway replaced Ajmal and had Hassan Ali caught by a diving Josh Cole at slip (124 for 6).
Aman Singh returned bowling his rather pacy off-spin and bowled Raza Farooq (13) and then had Kyal (0) caught behind. Raja Ahsan only lasted one delivery with a net loss of four runs.
Trying to run a two off his first delivery he was run out by Gurpreet’s throw to the keeper and was penalised 5 runs for running straight down the middle of the pitch. Ridgeway had the final say as Zia Farooq lofted him to Manpreet at long on. A rather disappointing end for Braywood with only one run added for the final four wickets.
The mood in the Hurley dressing room was one of cautious optimism at the tea interval, with a required rate of around three an over, but having failed to chase low totals in the past nobody was taking anything for granted.
Openers Saeed and Gurpreet made steady progress against the new ball, reaching 34 in the seventh over before Ahsan had Saeed caught by Raza.
The loss of two more wickets for the addition of only one run did nothing to soothe the Hurley nerves but a partnership of 34 between Josh Cole (14) and Jagdeep Singh (18) steadied the ship before they both fell with the score on 69.
Ajmal joined Ridgeway in the middle and the pair batted sensibly to advance the score to 88 in the twentieth over when Ridgeway (7) fell to a spectacular diving catch by Ali.
A brief cameo from Aman Singh with 15 from 10 deliveries including a couple of towering sixes before inevitably holing out off Raza kept the watching Hurley players on tenterhooks.
When Aman fell, there were still 26 runs needed with only three wickets remaining and once again the nerves were jangling but there was no need to panic.
Walton (1no) did what he does best and blocked and left with aplomb while Ajmal (55no) picked off the bad balls at the other end to edge ever closer to the target before finishing it off and reaching a well deserved half-century with consecutive sixes off Shiny Johnston, to cue celebrations from the home players and leaving Braywood to wonder where it all went wrong.
All lines are currently blocked between Reading and London Paddington stations due to a person being hit by a train.