Sat 13th Aug – 2nd XI v Banstead

Two Weeks On the Bounce: A Two Run Defeat

An outstanding all-round performance from Gareth Cornick was not enough to save Dulwich from slipping to their second successive agonising two run defeat.

The game was a must-win for both sides.  Dulwich linger just two points above the relegation zone, whilst defeat for bottom-placed Banstead would have seen them all but relegated.

Despite not winning since May, Dulwich 2nd XI began the day full of reasonable confidence; optimism buoyed by early events at the toss.  Cricket Chairman Graeme Hough had made clear in a midweek pep-talk to all the sides that the opportunity to turn a poor season into an average one was still very manageable; skipper Richard Reid certainly took note and won his third toss of the season to (marginally) improve his distressing success rate.

Banstead were invited to make first use of a good looking pitch and quick outfield.  After a flood of early runs allowed them to reach 31 in the sixth over, Dulwich’s openers Bobby Iftikhar and Zabeh Mohammed tightened up to restrict them to 46/0 after the first ten overs.

Iftihkar, in particularly, was very tidy.  He picked up the first wicket when Pearce edged to Reid behind the stumps and bowled through nine overs, recording figures of 1-17.  At the other end, the extra pace Mohammed was putting on the ball was used to effect by Banstead opener Offer, who found the boundary often early on.  But Mohammed eventually found his line and produced the second wicket when Loosemore was bowled for a duck.

Dulwich’s former strike bowler James Bridgland was then brought into the attack, and he chipped away outside off stump for a few overs before removing the dangerous Offer for 50 with a short one that was hammered straight to Zakir Rostami at point; Rostami doing well to cling onto a ball that was savagely hit.

Gareth Cornick, who had earlier dropped Offer at slip, was meanwhile twirling his off spin away at the other end and made up or his earlier uncharacteristic flap by nabbing four wickets in the middle overs.  The first – Banstead skipper Burns for 31 – thanks to an excellent example of how it should have been done by Stephen Hale at first slip.

From 105/4 at drinks, Banstead could only add 35 in the next 15 overs thanks to tight lines from Cornick and the excellent Rostami (1-22) for the loss of four wickets.  Cornick finished his spell with excellent figures of 4-34 and Banstead were teetering at 140-8 with ten overs to go.

From there, Banstead came well back into the game through a combination of good batting, the helpful outfield and some average Dulwich bowling a fielding.  A couple of chances to end the innings went begging, as Mohammed (1-54) and Bridgland (1-59) returned to complete the innings, with a brief cameo from Stuart Ferguson’s dibblers (0-24).  74 were added in the final ten overs by the Banstead tail – far more than Dulwich would have hoped or expected after their superb first 40 over performance, but still not an ungettable total on a good pitch.

Dulwich’s innings though was tempered, however, by the early loss of Hale (4) and Ferguson (6).  James Siddle and Cornick had to therefore spend time ensuring no further quick loss of wickets ensued before gradually moving up a gear and taking Dulwich to 99/2 at drinks in the 25th over.  This position of promise was punctured, though, when Siddle – who had played very nicely for 45 – bunted an innocuous full toss straight to mid off.  Oliver Steward then entered and continued his poor form by calamitously running himself out for an 11 ball duck, shortly being followed back to the hatch by Andy Cornick (7) who was LBW playing back.  Skipper Reid was next up and also chipped in with 7 before being bowled by the same bowler and Dulwich had crashed to 128/6.

A large proportion of Dulwich’s hopes now rested on Cornick and he responded in superb style, calmly making his way to a chanceless 50 with some typically well struck biffs.  Rostami, his new partner, played a good anchor role, looking to find singles to give Cornick the strike.  Gradually the score began to approach respectability again, though Dulwich remind slightly behind the required rate.  As the final ten overs began it was pushing up to nine an over and, despite not finding the boundary as often as was required, Dulwich just about hung on courtesy of some frantic running.

With two overs to go Dulwich required 18, but immediately lost Rostami (20) and could only manage seven off the penultimate over.  12 to win off the final six balls brought back memories of the previous weeks’ crushing two run defeat against Reigate Priory.  Bridgland, in the thick of the action in the final over last week, joined Cornick who missed out on the first delivery but then magnificently launched the second ball of the over for a huge six over long-on.  Six were now required off four.  The third ball was in a similar area, just inside Cornick’s arc, and he swung through the line again.  This time the contact was not quite as sweet, and the ball cruelly dropped into the waiting hands of long off.  Cornick, fighting a lone, fatigued battle, had fallen for 96.

Six required off three was still gettable, however.  Bridgland swung at the next ball but missed.  Another good ball was then scraped for a single leaving Zabeh Mohammed to hit the final ball for six to win the game.  He made good contact, but couldn’t get under the ball and only two could be taken to long off.  Dulwich, again dramatically and desperately, two runs short of the winning target.

With nearest rivals Ashtead also losing, however, Dulwich’s fate is still very much in their own hands.  They face Weybridge at home next week, needing to pick themselves up and go again as they fight to survive with just three games remaining.

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