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Cricket: Sunni shines for Harlow with superb ton

Cricket / Wed 11th May 2022 pm31 01:43pm

THE first full day of the Essex Senior League season saw a glut of run scoring from opposition and Harlow CC alike. Undoubted star of the day was Sunni Ali who made a superb century as the 3rd XI chased down over 300 to win batting second at Woodford Wells. Harlow’s other sides were all defeated but far from disgraced.

The First XI played host to league newcomers Aztecs (Ilford) knowing that they would be formidable opposition having entered the Senior League for the first time on the back of dominating the Essex County League. Such are the resources at Aztecs they boast three overseas players on their books including a player with a First Class pro career in India that includes Deccan Chargers and Hyderabad. 

As is the norm Harlow lost the toss and were asked to bowl first. All of the top order Aztec batsmen plundered runs, none more so than the highly impressive Sagar Song (103) and Pragesh Ramachanderan (64). It actually took a superb late rally from the Harlow bowlers to take a flurry of late wickets and restrict the visitors to 317-9 in 50 overs after Aztecs had at one stage been 290-3. Chris Whitworth was the pick of the home bowling taking 3-37 (10) the only bowler to avoid some damaging punishment from the aggressive batting of the London based side.

Whitworth 3-37 (10), Farooq 2-58 (10), Sarfaraz 2-72 (10), Yeats 1-35 (6) and Riddell 1-57 (6)

In reply Harlow made a decent start with Ben Yeats looking in fine touch. With the score on 47 he lost opening partner Syed Hassan and that triggered a collapse as the upper order subsided in quick succession. Yeats made a classy 54 before slipping out his ground and being stumped and a heavy defeat looked very likely.

Enter into the fray Gul Hassan and Andre Riddell who batted superbly for the seventh wicket. Both players probably underachieved with the bat last season but on this form they can look forward to 2022 with renewed confidence. Gul (pictured) was majestic in his stroke play as he smashed 76 from 58 balls whilst keeper Riddell was the perfect foil making 48. Whilst the pair were at the crease the entire momentum of the game changed and a hugely unlikely Harlow win was looking a possibility by the over. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough and despite a handy 17 from Joe Riddell Harlow were finally dismissed for 250.

Regardless off the 67 run defeat there were many positives to draw from this performance. At no point did Harlow ever throw in the towel and the degree of fight and determination shown bodes well for the season. Anyone who finishes above Aztecs this season are likely to be doing so as Champions of the division such was the impressive nature of the visitors side and strength in depth.

The Second XI faced difficult fixture away at Chingford. Harlow endured a challenging day in the field as the home side racked up 353-4 in 45 overs with opener Roy-Muckherjee making a century and his opening partner 91. Mark Quant took a brace of wickets.

Batting second Harlow never seriously looked likely to reach the target but fine scores from Mark Quant (70), Abdul Munim (44), Ben Terrington (34) and John Perry (29) ensured Harlow made a very decent 242-9 in reply.

Game of the day (as is so often the case) came with the Third XI who travelled to Woodford Wells. Again Harlow were forced to field first and home batter Robert Marshall took advantage to post a fine century as Wells amassed 312-5 with Farhad and Jake Hikmatshah taking two wickets apiece.

Arshad Muhammed (40) and John Allen (38) got Harlow’s reply off to a good start and skipper Rizwan added 27 himself. The key match winning partnership came between the ageless Simon Baulcomb (who made 48) and man of the day Sunni (Soulet) Ali. Sunni batted in outstanding fashion for a glorious undefeated 100. Even the very late loss of partner in runs Baulcomb couldn’t deny Harlow an outstanding win with just two balls left in the match.

The Fourth XI faced Fives 3rd XI on Spicers and suffered a fairly comfortable defeat. The visitors batted first making 267 with wickets for debutant Ibtisam Baig (3-40), Ronnie Fuller (2-30), Nathan McCarty (2-41) and Aju Kizahhedathu (2-46) whilst Matt Fisk grabbed the other wicket.

Harlow’s reply was dominated by Jack Sykes who carried his bat with a superb 82 not out. Assistance came from Biju Matthew (34) and Eliot Koopowitz (20) but Harlow were dismissed for 170.

Three defeats from four matches but actually many positives and many good individual performances. Plenty to play for.

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