League leaders St Aulaye too hot for Midi

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.

Harshesh Bhatt, top scorer with 53

Harshesh Bhatt on his way to a score of 53

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.

 

Midi hit a record 375 to beat Toulouse and go top of the league

An afternoon storm so nearly deprived Midi CC of the full points for victory in their home match against old rivals Toulouse but their visitors reached the required minimum 20 overs before the match was abandoned and on a superior run rate Midi are now top of the Blevins Franks South West League.

It was an historic day for Midi with both Harshesh Bhatt and Syed Naeem Abbas posting centuries. They helped Midi compile a record 375 runs after being put in to bat under grey skies by Toulouse who were sitting in second place in the league just ahead of Midi before Saturday’s match.

The win meant that Midi have now won all four matches – three of them in the league – on their new ground at Pouzolles. The club’s 26 points (20 for the win, 5 for batting, 1 for bowling) gives them a total of 82 points, 14 ahead of Toulouse and 19 ahead of St Aulaye who did not play at the weekend.

Toulouse, who have consistently beaten Midi in previous seasons, went desperately close to winning this match, battering 190 runs for three wickets before the rain set in. Their run rate after 20 overs was 9.5, very close to Midi’s 10.14 in 37 overs, reduced from 40 after a rain break.

Midi gave no hint of the fireworks to come after making a disastrous start. Without Captain Ankush Lal and seasoned campaigner Dom George, a drubbing looked in prospect with the score on 15 for three. The top order  – Paul Rogers (4), Omit Iqbal (0) and Joris Verdaasdonk (0) – were all back in the pavilion thanks to some fine bowling by Philippe Fermanel and Rayhan.

But once Harshesh and Naeem (pictured below) had settled in, the runs started to flow and after 21 overs, they had pushed the score past 200.

Midi’s two century makers, Harshesh Bhatt (left) and Syed Naeem Abbas.

Naeem was the first to go with the score on 247, caught by Toulouse captain Brett Trudgett, his 119 runs including 10 fours and 12 sixes.

The 232-run partnership with Harshesh was the highest in Midi’s 12-year history and was made all the more meritorious after Midi’s early collapse.

Man-of-the-match Harshesh, whose 73 had steered Midi to victory against Damazan CC in the previous game at Pouzolles, took his score to 130 before being bowled by Fermanel. His mammoth innings included 18 fours and five sixes.

Adnan (23), Ajmal (20) and Pierre Zivanovic (8 not  out), helped push the score along to 375 for nine wickets, a formidable target for Toulouse to chase.

Toulouse went on the offensive from the start with both Rayhan and Brett Trudgett taking to Midi’s bowlers. Only acting Captain Paul Rogers was able to stem the run flow, his superb and miserly 1 for 37 from the allotted seven overs saved the match for Midi.

When Trudgett was brilliantly bowled for 41 by Sayed in the 13th over with the score on 122, it was left to Rayhan to keep the run rate ticking over. Ultimately his undefeated 81 was not quite enough to clinch victory for Toulouse when the heavens opened and the match was abandoned with 20 overs completed.

Midi President James Luckes, who watched Midi’s victory, was elated by the performance. “This is a terrific achievement, considering the fact that the Pouzolles ground was only established this year. I feel sure that having the new ground has given a tremendous boost to the team.

“The game on Saturday was sadly rain affected and would probably have been a close run and high scoring finish had it run to a conclusion. Still, for Midi to knock up 375 runs without several of the regular players was great to watch and it shows now that there is depth in the team. All very exciting for the future.”

For latest results and league standings go to: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/