A close contest at the top of division three ended in defeat for Arthington 1st XI, as an undefeated Whixley side chased down a very competitive total with balls to spare.

For a change, the weather decided to be kind on a Saturday and the ACG was warm and sunny throughout the duration of the match. Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi won the toss and elected to bat first on what appeared to be a good surface at first glance. After only 5 balls, many would have had grounds to question this decision, as Arthington found themselves two wickets down; Sajid Hussain and Khamrosh Khan being dismissed in consecutive deliveries, with the score still at zero. However, Kevin Braithwaite, batting at number four saw off the hat-trick ball, whilst the other opener, Andrabi, watched on, having not yet faced a ball at the other end. The pair put on a terrific partnership of 120 runs together for the third wicket allowing Arthington to recover from the poor start. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and it did for Andrabi, finally failing to connect completely cleanly with a leg-side shot to be caught on the boundary, having made 92, including 5 fours and 9 sixes.

From this new, stronger position, Arthington were able to accelerate the scoring. Ahmer Sadiq and Braithwaite, who had played the anchor role up to this point, were able to score more freely, striking a number of boundaries, but Braithwaite eventually succumbed to this new aggressive strategy, shortly after passing his 50; his valuable 55-run contribution contained 4 fours and 2 sixes. From there, the middle to lower order added runs quickly, whilst still losing wickets at regular intervals. Sadiq (39), Alex O’Neil (34*) and Wasim Malik (31) all managed to clear the ropes on several occasions and, despite losing seven wickets in total, which slowed progress, Arthington reached their highest batting total of the season so far of 269 from the 40 overs.

Although the required rate of just under seven runs per over seemed daunting initially, it allowed Whixley to start their innings aggressively. They were also able to profit from some unusually poor bowling from Arthington as none of the opening three bowlers, Andrabi, Hussain or Luke Seaborne, were able to control the rate of scoring. The opening partnership had reached 97 runs before it was finally broken; Alex O’Neil taking a good catch at long on from the bowling of Ahmer Sadiq. Captain Andrabi turned to spin during the middle part of the innings and whilst this reduced the number of boundaries that were being scored, the Whixley batsmen were still able to keep the score ticking over, comfortably ahead of the rate.

The 82-run 2nd wicket partnership ended in very similar fashion to the first, as O’Neil held on to a high ball at long-on, this time off the bowling of Mohsin Ali. As if O’Neil’s position at long-on needed to be justified yet further, he took another catch there for the 3rd wicket, shortly after the Whixley batsman had reached his century. This dismissal brought with it a small ray of hope for Arthington, where there had previously been none, as there were two new batsmen at the crease and additional wickets did fall. Ahmer Sadiq, the pick of Arthington’s bowlers, took another two wickets, including a sharp catch off his own bowling and finished with figures of 8-0-49-4 and Seaborne knocked over off-stump in what turned out to be the final over. But it was too little too late and the expensive bowling and poor fielding at the start of the innings came back to haunt Arthington, who ultimately suffered their third defeat of the season. Whixley reached the target of 270 runs for the loss of 6 wickets in the 38th over.

Despite the obvious disappointment of losing to a promotion rival at home, there were still some positives to take from the game for Arthington. The batting performance was the best that the 1st XI has produced this season, which looked unlikely after a disastrous first over and the fielding innings showed signs of recovery towards the end, albeit overdue and in vain. The team will look to bounce back next week, when they travel to Birstwith.

Away from home, the 2nd XI also had their own top of the table clash against Ripley. Despite restricting the hosts to 188-7 (Vince Greaves-Newall 10-0-61-3, Dennis Nash 10-3-25-2), they were unable to chase down the target, eventually being bowled out for 142 from 32 overs (Martin Hings 38, Greaves-Newall 26) to round off a rare double-defeat weekend for the club.

Thank you to Arthington’s match ball sponsors for both teams this week: Gipton & Harehills Councillors

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