A fine captain’s display with both bat and ball from Naveed Andrabi was not enough to prevent the 1st XI’s first defeat of the season against a strong Upper Wharfedale side, in a thrilling, back and forth contest.

Having lost an important toss, Arthington were put in to bat and endured heavy pressure from the Upper Wharfedale opening bowlers, who kept the run rate low. Kamrosh Khan succumbed to the final ball of the 7th over with the score on 12 to bring Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi to the crease for what turned out to be the duration of the Arthington innings.

Understanding the need to increase the scoring rate, Andrabi set about attacking the bowling and quickly overtook opening batsman Sajid Hussain. A surge in scoring and several boundaries from Andrabi took the score from a worrying 43-1 after 17 overs to a more reasonable 71-2 at the halfway stage, with Hussain falling for 9 in the 20th over.

However, as has been the way with some of Arthington’s innings in recent weeks, there was a significant collapse, including two wickets in consecutive deliveries taking the score to 88-5. But Arthington bat deep and Lawrence Barraclough, along with the ever-present Andrabi steered the innings in the right direction and combined for an excellent 105-run partnership; Andrabi being the main scorer and moving to his first century of the season in impressive style.

His innings of 126 not out was filled with exciting shots all round the pitch including several memorable straight drives into the fields and a delightful clip off his legs that soared over the boundary for one of 9 sixes. They say fortune favours the brave and so it proved in this innings as Andrabi was dropped on two occasions in quick succession, having just reached his 50. First a mistimed on-drive was put down at long-on before an Upper Wharfedale fielder succeeded only in parrying another chance over the boundary for six in the very next over.

The partnership ended in the penultimate over when Barraclough missed a straight ball and was bowled for an important 31, including 2 sixes. Wasim Malik and the unbeaten Andrabi took 13 runs off the final over to finish the innings on 207-6. A competitive total but perhaps 20 or 30 runs short of par due to the sluggish start and mid-order collapse.

Luke Seaborne’s opening spell of bowling was economical but runs came steadily from the other end and after ten overs the score was 41-0, 23 runs ahead of where Arthington had been at the same stage. Enter Andrabi, who broke the opening partnership with his very first ball via a catch by Umar Farooq at mid-on, before taking another wicket in the same over, this time LBW. Seemingly inspired by his display with the bat, Andrabi proceeded to take wickets in each of his next two overs, included a prized scalp of the in-form Upper Wharfedale number 4, to tilt the match in Arthington’s favour at 61-4.

In a much-improved second spell, Rafiullah Khan bowled out another batsman, before an excellent partnership for the 6th wicket evened the odds once again, with several Arthington bowlers feeling the pressure and giving away runs in expensive overs. Umar Farooq finally brought an end to the 62-run stand via a catch by Alex O’Neil at mid-wicket.

Yet that was not the end of the boundary hitting, as the Upper Wharfedale batsmen, having moved themselves within touching distance of victory, chanced their arms and continued their onslaught. Andrabi (9-2-49-5), with the help of an excellent catch by Sajid Hussain, completed his 5-for in the 38th over to round-off a superb individual display, but it was not enough, as the visitors sealed the win with a six over mid-wicket with eight balls to spare.

At the end of one of the most well-attended matches in Arthington’s recent history, the 1st XI were not quite able to back-up their captain’s heroics and fell to their first defeat of a strange season. Their rivalry with Upper Wharfedale, who now boast two victories to Arthington’s one, will no doubt go on with this match giving the 1st XI a taste of the sterner tests that await them in the higher divisions, should they get there.

Arthington finish seven points behind Upper Wharfedale in the table but still well clear of the other teams below them. The league now enters a semi-final stage with second place hosting third place for a place in the final, meaning that the 1st XI will take on Walton Park, who they are yet to face after the 8-game regular season. It is likely, if victorious, that they will be taking on Upper Wharfedale again in only two weeks’ time if the league leaders can overcome Raskelf.

Away from home, the 2nd XI continued their tour of North Yorkshire with a trip to the races against Thirsk. The hosts may have regretted their choice to bat first as only 18 overs were needed to bowl them out for 34. Joe Seaborne claimed his second 5-wicket haul in as many games with incredible figures of 9-2-13-5 and he was supported by Martin Hings with an impressive spell of 7-1-8-3. It was nice to see Umer Khan back in the wickets as well, as he finished off the innings by bowling out the number 11.

The reply was not without its hurdles, as three Arthington wickets fell from a largely upturned batting order, but Gareth Meredith (7), playing in an unusually orthodox manner, saw the team over the line; Vince Greaves-Newall (13) the only player to reach double figures before he retired with an injury.

At the end of the regular season, the 2nd XI can be extremely proud of their efforts, dropping only four points over the course of the campaign. Interestingly, they will play Thirsk again next week in the semi-final, likely away from home once more, owing to the 1st XI’s home tie.

Arthington CC wishes to thank the match ball sponsors for this week’s fixtures.

1st XI match ball sponsor: Ahmer Sadiq

2nd XI match ball sponsor: Martin Hings

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