Sat 20th May – 4th XI v Banstead

BANSTEAD 163 (45) lost to DULWICH 164-8 (37) by 2 wickets


After a couple of champagne wins to kick off the season, Banstead were expected to provide a sterner test for Matt Dixon’s men, having finished third in the league last year. The corresponding fixture in 2016 was a, how to put it…, ‘lively’ encounter, with Knighty sprinting from the field to keep his boyish good looks at the end of the game, having managed to antagonise the opposition more than his own team for once. This fixture contained little of this needle, but it certainly delivered a tense finish as Alex Easedale (playing his first game for the 4th XI) and David Woods (er, not playing his first game for the 4th XI) saw DCC maintain their 100% start to the season by two wickets.

Arriving with a team that bore little resemblance to those in the first two games, the skipper knew it was time for the players to grind out a result and win ugly. And trust me, this victory was ugly; Shane McGowan, the morning after St. Patrick’s day ugly.

Winning the toss Dixon was delighted to insert Banstead in to bat on a damp green wicket. Prasanna took the new ball, but without his preferred partner, Sunil Isaac who was on holiday in the 3’s, new ball was thrown to young spinner Forhad Ahmed. This tactic paid dividends straight away with veteran opener David Stow scooping him to point where Sakid Rashed took a comfortable catch. Joining the attack Sakib then removed over opener Shields for a dreary 12 and Banstead were wobbling with two down and Dixon mentally congratulating himself on his luck tactical genius.

However, in strode Surrey over 50’s superstar Irfan Sultan, who slapped his first two balls to the boundary and set about exhorting his authority from the start. Finding an ally in no 3 Estall, the pair took on the below-par Dulwich attack and took the score past 50.

The critical period of the innings was the bowling partnership between Alex Easedale and David Woods. Introduced in placed of Sakib, Woods immediately applied a tourniquet to the Banstead innings, strangling the run rate to the odd single. At the same time Easedale who had struggled for length and bowling in borrowed boots, found some rhythm and became equally economical. The pressure started to tell as Alex removed Estall with the first of two catches from Zeeshan and Woodsy suckered batsmen 5 and 6 into ill-fated lofted drives.

The rest of this Banstead innings was a dash to clobber a few late runs, with Forhad coming back into the attack and picking up a couple more wickets, including a beauty that turned through the batsman’s gate. A couple of late runouts saw Banstead finish on 163. A very gettable target and a good reflection of a decent fielding and bowling effort, given we had many key players missing. Special note should go to Cian Scannell and Rhys Williams in the field who were outstanding.

After one of the best teas on the circuit, Zeeshan and Cian Scannell lead the DCC reply. Making his debut, Scannell immediately looked solid and technically sound. Zeeshan looked like… well, Zeeshan. Things were going swimmingly, when at 49-0, Cian was hit on the pads in front and became the first man down. Dan Peters was next in, and remembering his innings in the 2016 fixture, the opposition skipper scattered his field randomly with little intuition as to where the ball might go.

Having reached a brisk 39, Zeeshan was caught one handed on the boundary by the leaping Mark Gordon. He stood his ground, uncertain that it was caught within the boundary, but had to take the fielder’s word and reluctantly left. The skipper Dixon came to the wicket and he and Peters were determined to see the innings through. For the next few overs, runs were easy to come by and the chirpy Banstead fielders were silenced, seemingly accepting their fate of another Dulwich win.

However, against the run of play, the accurate seamer Kukulan removed Peters for a belligerent 29 and then had Dixon caught off the back of his bat for 23.

Suddenly Dulwich were 4 down with 40 still needed.

The Banstead team sensed the nervousness in the Dulwich ranks, as the runs dried up and the pressure increased. Skipper Dixon went out to umpire and keep things calm from close quarters, but he watched helplessly as Kukulan sent Rashed and Bailey back to the hutch in the same over and then saw Rhys Williams scoop one to cover.

7 down and 25 needed.

Prasanna rode his luck for a streaky but welcome 14, but he soon became Kukulan’s 5th victim, caught behind. With 13 needed, DCC had David Woods and Alex Easedale at the crease, with only genuine no. 11 Forhad to follow.

The fielders crowded the bat and the noise level started to increase. For the next 7 overs, the two ground out the odd run and slowly kept towards the target. Woodsy maintained a Yoda-like calmness throughout the situation and the common sense Alex showed was admirable.

In the 39th over, they sneaked it over the line and Dulwich’s 100% record was maintained.

This was a scrappy win and truthfully a situation we should not have found ourselves in. However, the character the team demonstrated to see it over the line was admirable and it is likely that later in the season, this will be one of those games we look back on and realise it’s significance.

Next up will be the warm welcome of SinjunGrammararians followed by big rivals Wimbledon and Spencer where the league table will really start to take shape.

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