Sat 6th Aug – 2nd XI v Reigate Priory

Brave Doggies End Two Runs Short

A fantastic innings of 97 by Simon May couldn’t quite push Dulwich past Reigate Priory’s stiff target in an important game towards the lower end of the 2nd XI Premier Division table.

Dulwich, going into the day third bottom and only two points above the drop zone, were seeking an important win as the league games reverted back to the straight 50/50 win-lose format after several weeks of toss-losing induced misery in the split 100 overs format.

Dulwich skipper Reid won/lost the toss (depending on at what stage during the day’s proceedings he was asked about it) and the Doggies chose/were asked to bowl first.

Reigate batted well to post a decent-looking target of 251 on an above-par Dulwich pitch.  After Bobby Iftikhar (1-28) had made an early breakthrough – courtesy of the first of three good catches from the league’s self-proclaimed best slipper Gareth Cornick – Dulwich had to stay patient as two sizeable partnerships, comprising of 88 for the 2nd wicket and then 105 for the 3rd, saw Reigate reach 217/2 in the 42nd over.  Dulwich did not do much wrong; but the odd catch went down, a few more wides than would have been expected were bowled and Reigate – especially their number three Irving – successfully cashed in against the four balls that were occasionally offered up.  Even James Bridgland, in his new role as first change/Chris Harris-esque stock bowler, went for over five-and-a-half an over.

But, despite looking set to really unleash towards the end of the innings, Reigate were kept to just 34 in the final eight overs as Dulwich nabbed seven late wickets.  First Mizra nibbled the again-unretired Allen Blackford’s off spin (1-57) through to keeper Reid for 57 and then Irving departed for a very good 99; the second of Cornick’s catches at first slip, this time off the bowling of Zakir Rostami.  It was Rostami who really stemmed the Reigate advance in the final overs, picking up 4-38 off nine overs, showing excellent control to bowl full and fast at the death.  Two run outs also indicated Dulwich’s fielders were staying committed to the last, despite a hard slog in the field, and Reigate ended up registering 251-9 in their 50 overs.

Chasing five an over and benefiting from local knowledge that dictates the new ball is often the most dangerous period of an innings at Burbage Road, Dulwich saw fit to work their way through the opening overs circumspectly.  They reached 30 in the tenth over for the loss of just Andy Cornick (15) who had nibbled through to the keeper.  A fantastic partnership then ensued between Stephen Hale and Simon May as the rate was upped slightly before Hale, who was starting to look very good, was snaffled at long-on for 37.  At 101-2 in the 25th drinks were taken and vice-captain Gareth Cornick joined May.  May’s innings was a spectacle of steady of accumulation interspersed with some hefty cutting and pulling and he was looking well in command of the Reigate attack.  He and Cornick, who started slowly but soon found his range, put on a steady 102 run partnership as Dulwich, nearly matching Reigate run-for-run, took themselves to 203/2 in the 43rd.

With 49 required off the final seven, Dulwich were decent favourites.  But the state of the game was changed dramatically in the 44th over as three quick wickets savage the Dulwich charge.  First Cornick tried to guide one to third man, but didn’t steer wide enough of the keeper, and was caught for 38.  Two balls later Oliver Steward (2) was a victim of the pitch as he was caught on the crease by a skidder and then, crucially, off the final delivery May chipped to mid off three short of what would have been a magnificent – and most likely match-winning – hundred.  Two overs later and Dulwich were further in the mire when Rostimi (4) was bowled.

Having surrendered four wickets for just nine runs the pressure had hugely increased on the home team’s batsmen as Blackford and Reid tried to rescue the situation with some positive batting and running between the wickets.  As the clock pushed past 8pm in the evening it was now becoming very dark.  229 was reached when Blackford was bowled trying to angle to third man.  Bridgland joined Reid and a further 11 were accrued through some darkness-defying swinging and Dulwich were left needing 11 from the final over to nab the win.

A swing and a miss first ball made things difficult and, when Reid (11) was bowled next ball, the situation was looking lost.  Zabeh Mohammed joined Bridgland and picked up two and then a single off the next pair of deliveries to leave eight needed off of two.  Bridgland (11*), in the dark and miserable drizzle, heaved the next ball to the boundary for four to give brief hope, but the final delivery could only be squirted for two and Dulwich fell dramatically and disappointingly two short.

Failure to win here makes the trip to bottom-placed Banstead next week a must-win.

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