Weather the winner on Saturday before 1st XI cup hopes washed away

On a weekend where as many as three matches involving Arthington’s two teams had been scheduled to take place, only the 1st XI’s Sunday cup match could go ahead; the weather getting the better of both league fixtures on a very soggy Saturday. Despite a close-run contest, the 1st XI failed at the first hurdle in the cup with many areas of their game seemingly in need of improvement.

The team travelled to first division Masham to play in the Atkinson-Swires cup for the first time. Unlike previous cup competitions, the mid-week T20 format was a thing of the past. Instead, a 40-over contest was in store. Arthington’s captain Naveed Andrabi won the toss and elected to field first with the wicket and outfield still a little damp from the previous day’s torrential conditions.

The opening bowling pair of Umar Farooq and Naveed Andrabi started extremely well, so well in fact that they bowled out the entirety of their 8-over spells without interruption. Not only were runs hard to come by, but wickets were also falling at regular intervals as well as several other chances being created. Andrabi struck first in only the fourth over with an LBW while Farooq saw a slip chance go down at the other end. Andrabi struck again though this time the batsman was largely at fault; creaming a ball straight to a deliberately placed Akash Hazra at wide long-off. Two overs later and Andrabi took his third wicket, this time via a straightforward catch for Kamrosh Khan at point. Farooq ultimately went unrewarded for his fantastic bowling spell of 8-1-23-0.

At this point in proceedings, Arthington were on top, but the change bowling did not bring the same level of control offered by the two openers, though Rafiullah Khan did take a wicket in his first over; another catch in the deep by the reliable Hazra. Masham’s fifth wicket partnership was the biggest in terms of both runs and time spent at the crease as their impressive number three combined with the all-rounder at six to put on 64. By this point, several bowling options had been tried to no effect.

Andrabi turned to spin in the form of Rahul Khode, which reaped sensational rewards. Having gone for a solitary run in his first over, Khode followed it up with a triple wicket maiden in the second; clean bowling the number three who had reached 45, as well as the number seven, before the next batsman swatted the final delivery of an extraordinary over to Arthington debutant Zain Ul Abdin at mid-off, who took a good catch. This turned Masham’s respectable 131-4 into a precarious 131-7 in the space of six deliveries and once again put Arthington in the driver’s seat.

Rahul Khode bowling during his incredible spell in which he took six Masham wickets.

However, further Masham resistance was to follow as their all-rounder combined nicely with the wicketkeeper; playing out four of Khode’s overs with no additional damage, while Ul Abdin, another spin option utilised by the Arthington captain, was also unable to break through at the other end. It was not until the 39th over, Khode’s seventh, that more wickets fell, as the spinner took another three wickets in a single over to finish off the Masham innings. The Masham number six, who had played well for his 40 runs, chipped the ball straight back to Khode who expertly completed the caught and bowled before leather struck stump twice more to finish off the remaining batsmen in rapid succession and giving Khode an impressive 6-fer. Masham were eventually all out for 178; a total much higher than Arthington would have liked given their impressive start to proceedings.

With their strength largely being in the batting department, the 1st XI still believed the target was well within their reach. At the tea interval the rain began to fall and it would continue to do so for the remainder of the game though play continued uninterrupted; both teams being equally affected by the change in conditions.

Sajid Hussain opened the Arthington innings with Zain Ul Abdin (21) and though the former struggled to score, the latter quickly entered the 20’s with several nice strokes. Sadly, both openers then lost their wickets in consecutive overs, the score 28-2. Umar Farooq and Naveed Andrabi looked in reasonable touch in their partnership until Farooq inexplicably found the point fielder with a cut shot from a full-toss as the boundary beckoned. After a further wicket fell, Arthington found themselves 51-4 in the 16th over.

Yet the arrival of Andrew Dowson brought renewed hope to the Arthington cause and, together with captain Andrabi, the pair combined for an excellent partnership of 73 to once again make Arthington favourites for victory. Having already given two catching chances to Masham’s fielders, Andrabi finally saw a catch held off his bat and had to go for 42, including 3 fours and 1 six. Dowson, the other set batsman, followed soon after, misdirecting a shot to mid-off to be caught and from a position of strength at 124-4, Arthington suddenly found themselves on the back foot once again at 130-6.

But there was still lots of batting to come and the Khans, Kamrosh and Rafiullah, kept the runs flowing with a punchy 24-run partnership to tip the balance once again. However, having both reached double figures and when sensible batting would have seen them home, both selected poor shots to be dismissed; Khan K slicing a drive skywards as well as backwards to be caught by the wicketkeeper and Khan R dancing down the wicket, missing the ball and being given out LBW.

Ahmer Sadiq’s return to the side also ended in an LBW and with 13 runs needed in the final two overs, the wicket now a mud bath, Akash Hazra and Luke Seaborne were unable to deliver, falling nine runs short of a tie with four balls remaining. Arthington all out for 169.

This result sees Arthington’s 1st XI bow out of the Atkinson-Swires cup in the first round and asks questions of all of the players regarding their performances, particularly in the field where many runs were given away as well as several catches dropped, which could have made the difference and given Arthington a much more desirable outcome.

Next week the 1st XI will travel to top of the table Alne, while the 2nd XI entertain Bishop Monkton at the ACG.

The club would like to thank Malcolm Barraclough for scoring the cup match as well as Shoaib Khan who helped out in the second innings.