Cricket: Another magnificent seven for magic Sarfaraz

Cricket / Mon 14th Jun 2021 at 08:10am

FOR the second week on the bounce, Harlow left arm spinner, Sarfaraz Ahmed grabbed a superb 7 wicket haul to overcome a side challenging for promotion. This Saturday at Marigolds it was second placed Rainham who fell to the turn and guile of Harlow’s leading wicket taker.

Having won the toss Rainham made first use of a good looking batting strip and home skipper, Jake Messenger, decided to throw the new ball to a pace/spin combination of Rob Petchey and Sarfaraz. The latter grabbed an early wicket of opener Jas Hothi but 10 overs in the visitors were going along nicely at 6 an over for that single loss.

Abdullah Farooq was introduced, first change from the Old Town end, and struck twice. First he removed Rainham captain Jon O’Neill who shoulder arms and offered no shot to a delivery that swung and crashed into off stump followed two balls later trapping Ronnie Jackson LBW for a duck. At 63-3 Rainham recovered well through opener Sid Patel and Daniel Skipper with Patel striking an aggressive half century. Nevertheless, Mark Quant and Abdullah Farooq had reduced the run rate to an acceptable level and at drinks the game was in the balance at 107-3.

It was the re-introduction of Sarfaraz, coupled with spin at the other end from Jake Messenger, that changed the game completely. The key wicket of Patel, who made 66, came when he crashed a Messenger delivery off the middle of the bat straight back to the fiery haired twirler who took an incredible instinctive catch. That piece of brilliance opened up the Rainham batting and Sarfaraz needed no further invitation. The little man’s final five overs included four wicket maidens, six wickets for only one scoring shot as he destroyed the visitors lower order.

Credit must go to the fielders, who despite some sub-optimal efforts earlier, gave full support to Sarafraz. Andre Riddell, arguably the best gloveman in the division, took two sharp stumpings whilst Ben Yeats held a difficult left handed slip catch that was already behind him when he managed to grab onto it. The star of the show though was Sarafaraz who led the home side from the field to applause needing 142 to take a much needed win.

Sarfaraz 7-34 (12 overs), Farooq 2-18 (5 overs), Messenger 1-28 (9 overs), Quant 0-25 (7 overs) & Petchey 0-26 (5 overs)

Regular readers will know that the occasional batting hiccup has led to the odd evening report writing melt down but no one could have any complaints about the manner of this weeks run chase. Ben Yeats and Atif Mustehsan rattled along at well over 6 an over to add 121 for the first wicket until Yeats miscued a slower ball and lost his wicket with the game won. The young opener had added 68, including 11 fours and a six in his 71 ball effort, and looked every bit worthy of his position as the Hamro Foundation Essex Senior League leading run scorer across all divisions. Credit also to Atif who made an unbeaten 53 and whilst less classical in his method equally as effective as his younger opening partner.

A 9 wicket win then with over 30 overs to spare and perhaps the best performance of the season. After the decade of Bentley one has to give great credit to Jake and his side for two cracking performances that have seen them quietly creep into the outskirts of the promotion mix. They do it all again next week at Marigolds with a home fixture against Goresbrook.

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