Audlem 1st XI entertained Heaton Mersey Village at the Gorse Croft ground in the Cheshire Cricket Alliance Division 2 fixture yesterday. The game appeared to be slipping away from the home team, but a cloudburst set up a tense finish as the game ended in a draw.
On a cloudy but very muggy day, skipper Chris Shenton won the toss and, with what looked a good batting track, had no hesitation in asking the visitors to field. After 14 overs it looked like Audlem would set a large total as openers Andy Capper and Shenton, looking very comfortable and assured, had pushed the score 47. But then Shenton misjudged a short ball that he tried to pull to leg. The ball kept low and was he was bowled for 34.
Jim Littlewood soon followed him, caught behind for a duck and HMV started to gain the initiative. Tom Measures joined Capper at the crease but with excellent bowling from the HMV bowlers Ollie Chapman and Ajit Phadke, the run rate dried up. So much so that Audlem had only scored 99 off 37 of the maximum 48 overs and were struggling to build a defendable total.
Capper was caught for 32 in the next over as the batsmen tried to step up the run rate. Paddy Leese sacrificed his wicket in the run chase and Ollie Burney twisted a knee as he turned to regain his ground following an attempted quick run with the score at 117 for 4. He had to retire hurt and was replaced by veteran John Wainwright.
HMV's skipper Phadke sensed that Wainwright wouldn't be able to cope with the bowling and brought the fielders closer in. However, Wainwright hit two massive sixes off HMV's star bowler Chapman. Needless to say, when Wainwright faced the next over the fielders were scattered around the ground. Audlem's innings quickly gained momentum as Wainwright and Measures hit further sixes. Together they took the score to 167 before Measures fell on his sword and was bowled trying to hit the ball back over the bowler's head having scored 46 with three balls to go. Audlem finished up 168 for 5 with Wainwright finishing on 29 not out. Chapman finished with 3 for 71 off 16 overs.
HMV's reply got off to a bad start when Littlewood ran out opener Wasim Asan with the score on 22. However the batsmen then started to let loose and after some big shots by both Andrew Bailey and Shaan, the score raced to 54 before Shaan was bowled by Stuart Elkes for 22. In the next over Littlewood bowled Dave Padbury first ball.
Chapman then joined Bailey at the crease and both batsmen scored freely as the score raced on to 121, when Bailey was caught on the boundary by Burney off Littlewood's bowling. At this point HMV required just 58 runs off 22 overs. As dark clouds started to form on the horizon, HMV tried to finish the innings quickly and Phadke became Lyndon Woodcock's first victim when he was caught by Shenton. Chapman was still scoring freely and was dropped on the boundary and survived a missed stumping when he was out of his crease.
Almost immediately after this the heavens opened and, despite the covers being rushed on to protect the wicket, within minutes the square was under water. It looked like there would be no more play but after a fine effort by both teams the puddles were mopped up and play began again. However HMV had lost 10 of the remaining overs and now needed 47 off only 8 overs.
With Chapman still at the crease the win appeared to be on, but with some excellent bowling from Littlewood and Woodcock, who snapped up another wicket, and some canny field placing by Shenton (everyone apart from the wicketkeeper was put on the boundary at times) HMV found themselves needing 12 off the final over.
Teenager Littlewood had the daunting task of bowling the last over with hard-hitting Chapman facing. He only managed a single off the first ball but Ravi Nagarkar hit the next ball for two. Littlewood showed great maturity and kept his nerve as the next two balls only yielded one run. With two balls remaining eight runs were needed for victory.
Chapman duly dispatched the first one to the boundary to set up the tensest of finishes, but was only able to scamper a single off the final ball. He finished the game on 71 not out as HMV ended their innings on 166 for 6. Littlewood bowled throughout the innings and finished with 2 for 70 off 16 overs. Woodcock also claimed two victims. Audlem gained 11 points to drop one place to fourth and HMV 6 .
Next Saturday the 1st XI travel to Saughall, who replaced them in third place with a comfortable seven-wicket victory over leaders Frodsham.
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