Damazan CC ended Midi CC”s three-match unbeaten league campaign with a 61-run victory at their home ground on Sunday, 16 June, but the Herault’s only cricket club remain at the top of the ACCSO southern pool of the Blevins Franks Southwest Regional League 10 points clear of their nearest rivals.
However, with only two matches played, compared to Midi’s four, unbeaten Damazan are now the biggest threat to Midi winning their first-ever league title.
In the bucolic surroundings of their ground, Damazan won the toss and chose to bat first on a perfect afternoon for cricket. Midi’s opening bowlers gave little away, restricting Damazan to just 27 runs from the first 10 overs, which featured an opening spell of three consecutive maidens from Waseem Akhter, who finished with figures of 0 for six from 6.2 overs.
Midi’s change bowlers proved more to the Damazan batsmen’s liking, however, and the opening partnership passed 50 before Louis Parry struck twice in one over, the first with the help of a superb one-handed take from captain Naeem Abbas at cover, the second when Dutch import Joris Verdaasdonk safely pouched a steepling catch at mid-on.
Damazan’s batsmen continued to score rapidly, however, with Ahmed (58) and Shahid (22) making full use of some loose Midi bowling.
At 106 for three wickets after 18 overs, Damazan seemed set to post an imposing total, but quick wickets either side of the drinks break saw Midi reduce them to 126 for seven. The Damazan tail then wagged, to leave Midi facing a target of 171 from 41 overs.
Midi’s run chase got off to the worst possible start, when Chris Dommett was bowled for 0 off the third ball of the first over. Ben Morgan and the prolific Shakeel Akram brought the score to 37 from 10 overs before Damazan’s Gagandeep Singh tempted Morgan into an overly ambitious lofted drive, and then bowled Verdaasdonk in the same over. Singh would finish with figures of five for 16 from seven overs.
Midi’s in-form batsmen, Shakeel and Sher Ahmad, found it difficult to make progress against some accurate Damazan bowling, with just two boundaries coming between the 7th and 19th overs, and Shakeel progressing from 20 to 30 entirely in singles. Nevertheless, they had brought the total to 64 before Sher was dismissed on the stroke of the drinks interval.
Midi’s hopes of reaching Damazan’s total suffered a further blow when Shakeel pulled a muscle running a quick single, and had to retire hurt, having scored 38. Nevertheless, Warren Dauncey, with support from Parry, brought the score to 106 for five before he was out to a smart stumping.
This brought the injured Shakeel back to the wicket with Midi still believing they could pull off a victory and keeping their unbeaten league record intact. Unfortunately, Shakeel was bowled first ball on his return, and Midi’s remaining wickets fell rapidly to finish 109 all out, giving Damazan a comfortable victory.
Overall, too many of Midi’s batsmen got out too cheaply: while seven of Damazan’s batsmen reached double figures, seven of Midi’s did not.
The return fixture against Damazan at Midi’s home ground in Pouzolles on Sunday, 7 July, is likely to be crucial in deciding who wins the southern pool of the ACCSO league in 2019.