League leaders St Aulaye brushed aside Midi CC in their top-of-the-table clash on Sunday in searing heat, convincingly winning by 108 runs after forcing a dramatic collapse when the visitors seemed on target to victory.
Midi, unbeaten this season at their new ground in Pouzolles, continued their losing streak on the road and after having their match against Eymet CC on 25 June postponed to 30 July, and with Bordeaux-Giscours, Toulouse and Eymet registering victories, they have now slipped to fifth place in the Blevins Franks South-West Regional League title (for full updated results and league table: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/ ).
Wayward bowling from Midi after sending St Aulaye in to bat engineered the defeat, none of the strike bowlers able to make an early breakthrough. This allowed St Aulaye’s opening batsman Zain Khalid to score a brilliant 123 and set the foundation for the home team’s triumph.
St Aulaye had looked well on the way to making 350 plus with the score on 170 for two after only 20 overs but once Zain had departed, the run rate dropped and Midi’s enthusiasm in the field was reflected in three run outs and four brilliant catches in the deep.
This was exemplified by Joe Whitworth, whose never-say-die running in the 30 deg C plus temperatures was rewarded by one of the run outs.. Naeem also produced one of the catches of the season, running along the boundary rope to pouch a huge hit.
Midi’s best bowlers were Captain Ankush Lal with two wickets for 52 runs and Shajar with two for 55.
Midi’s run chase started disastrously with openers Paul Rogers (0) and Tahir (2) back in the pavilion with the score on 8. But as so often in previous matches, Ankush and Midi’s Mr Consistency, Harshesh Bhatt, steadied the ship and took the score to 99 before Ankush fell LBW one short of his half century.
With Naeem joining Harshesh – and following their 232-run quickfire partnership against Toulouse earlier in the month – Midi could still sniff victory.
But when Harshesh departed for 53 with the score on 134, caught after mishitting a ball from slow bowler Irfan, shortly followed by Naeem who went for 3, Midi’s hopes faded. The last six wickets tumbled for only 38 runs, only Ajmal providing any resistance with a stylish 21. Irfan was St Aulaye’s main destroyer, brought on late, but ending with five wickets for 29 runs.