It was a day for the middle order and bowlers to shine for Arthington as they secured another fine victory on a gloomy day away at Rainton.
Had Rainton not been bottom of the league, Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi may have thought twice about batting first, following another successful call at the toss, but such has been the formula for success of late there were no such thoughts. Yet his optimism looked to have been ill-founded after only a few overs, as a lively opening stand of 29 ended when Kamrosh Khan was out LBW for 16 and Arthington then collapsed to 60-5 in only the 13th over, with the first four batsmen all reaching double figures before promptly losing their wickets. Slow left-arm spin did most of the damage, claiming the scalps of Sajid Hussain (13), Naveed Andrabi (15) and debutant Umar Farooq (12).
However, with the current strength in the Arthington 1st XI batting line-up, things were not quite as gloomy as the grey skies suggested. Rafiullah Khan and Ahmer Sadiq formed a magnificent 6th wicket partnership of 141, taking the innings all the way into the 37th over before Khan finally fell, caught behind. His exciting knock of 62 was far from chanceless though, in fact he gave the Rainton fielders four chances to dismiss him with lofty, aerial shots before a catch was finally taken by the wicketkeeper. His excellent innings included 7 fours and 2 sixes.
Sadiq, on the other hand, played flawlessly, until an LBW in the final over saw him fall just seven runs short of a century. After a composed start, he accelerated impressively and was soon sending the ball to all parts of the boundary, including one enormous blow onto the pavilion roof. His score of 93 came in good time and contained 11 fours and 3 sixes. After 40 overs, Arthington finished their innings on 236-8.
In the very first over of the reply, Umar Farooq (6-2-30-1) took his first Arthington wicket with a beauty; a ball that started on leg-stump, swung in the air to middle and then jagged off the pitch to clip the top of off. An almost impossible delivery that would have dismissed many fine batsmen. When fellow opening bowler Luke Seaborne pictured claiming his 100th Arthington wicket, it is unlikely he would have imagined a catch by the wicketkeeper taken at short mid-wicket, but that’s exactly what happened in the very next over, when a leading edge looped high into the air and Andrew Dowson scampered from his position behind the stumps to take the catch.
There began a mini revival after the early breakthroughs with a quick 31-run stand, before Seaborne (5-2-15-2) claimed his second wicket in even more bizarre circumstances; the batsman, through his shot too early, diverted a ball that was sailing harmlessly down the leg-side off the back of his bat and onto the stumps.
Following a chest-high no-ball that ended up reaching the boundary, Naveed Andrabi took a wicket with the first legal ball of his spell; a vicious delivery that found the edge of the bat and the waiting gloves of Dowson. With this loss of their top scorer for 29, that signalled the last of any real Rainton resistance.
Andrabi went on to take a wicket in both of his next two overs; sending a bail flying with a pacey delivery before a catch looped up to a well-placed Ahmer Sadiq at deep cover to leave him with terrific figures of 4-1-18-3. At the other end, Rafiullah Khan managed a wicket and three maidens from his excellent four over spell, giving the impressive Andrew Dowson his third catch of the game behind the stumps and the Rainton tail was comprehensively lopped off by Hamza Mahmood (3-0-14-3) with the help of a sharp slip catch by Seaborne, a fantastic yorker and a length ball that kept low, clattering into middle stump. Rainton all out for 91.
After a shaky start, Arthington were able to coast to a comfortable victory thanks to an outstanding middle-order partnership and their usual high standards of bowling and fielding. The 20-point win allows them to maintain their perfect start to the season in division three. The 1st XI wishes to thank Malcolm Barraclough for umpiring in both innings and Ken Clayton for scoring the match. Next week they have another away fixture against Ripley 1st XI.
Sadly, the Arthington 2nd XI fixture against Ripley 4th XI did not take place due to a concession. Their next game is at the ACG against Bishop Monkton.
Thanks also to Chris Pennington, our match ball sponsor this week.