Vice-captain Paul Rogers produced a master class of swing bowling to inspire a shock victory for Midi over Catus CC on an away weekend which also brought defeat at the hands of Toulouse CC.
The strike bowler wrecked the Catus top order as the home side chased Midi’s meagre total of 113, returning season best figures of 5 for 28 in overcast conditions with slow bowler Gaurav Chatterjee mopping up the tail with a superb four-wicket spell which yielded only three runs.
But it was Rogers who helped erase the memory of the previous day’s thrashing by last year’s league champions Toulouse after Midi had crawled to 113 against Catus, reaching three figures thanks to captain Ankush Lal, who led by example, top scoring in both matches.
Catus went down by 52 runs as Midi turned round a poor performance in the field against Toulouse, with wicketkeeper Harshesh Bhatt outstanding in snapping up two catches and effecting a vital stumping.
Midi’s astonishing victory gives the club a chance of winning the ACCSO Regional League Southern Pool for the first time with a return match against Catus CC on 26 June now looming as the most vital in its 11-year history.
Sadly, if Midi win at home it could mark the last league match at St Pons de Mauchiens as the club must search for a new ground after the Mairie elected to lay a rolled earth Tambourin strip on the oval, making cricket almost impossible.
In gloomy conditions, with rain a constant threat, Midi won the toss and decided to bat against Catus, a team who had beaten the formidable Toulouse by five wickets in their only other league match this season and who had never lost to Midi at home.
The miserable record on the road looked set to continue with Midi’s top order crawling to 42 in 11 overs, bogged down by tight bowling from the home side, particularly Artik whose four-wicket haul included opener Rogers for 2 and club stalwart Dom George who grafted a dogged 8 as he and Ankush added a vital 53 runs after Midi had slumped to 49 for four.
It was Ankush who once again saved the day for Midi, moving to 53, with two sixes and five fours, before falling LBW to Rahim and triggering a dramatic Midi collapse which saw the last six wickets tumble for only 9 runs.
Harshesh was the only other batsman to make double figures (15) and Midi’s five ducks had the Catus team licking their lips at another dismal drubbing.
But the wily Rogers had other ideas. His first over removed the two openers and three overs later he despatched another two, supported by George who clean bowled the dangerous Rahim, who had top scored with 97 against Toulouse.
Catus slumped to 34 for six and looked hard pressed to make a half century. But their lower order batsmen Andy Pound and Steve Taylor staged a mini revival before Gaurav mopped up the last four batsmen with a two-over spell that yielded only three runs.
Midi’s stunning win was in sharp contrast to a lethargic display against Toulouse on the Saturday when Midi let the home side off the hook, conceding 170 runs in the last 20 overs. Ram Khumbar returned Midi’s best figures with 3 for 58.
Midi never looked like chasing the 294-run winning target and with half the side back in the pavilion with 124 runs on the board and 27 overs gone, respectability was the only option.
Ankush top scored with 44 in the 149-run total and only Gaurav (14), Harshesh (13), Rogers (12) and Marc Dalling (10), made double figures in the 144-run defeat.
Midi scorer Reg Gratton who has chronicled his team’s mostly painful league exploits on the road over the last six years promptly labelled the Catus victory as a high point and noted that this away weekend was one of the few when the club were able to field a full side on both days.
Midi also had both outgoing President Marc Dalling and Treasurer David Amoros on hand to watch Midi’s remarkable result. The victory follows the club’s record three league wins in the 2015 season – one over Catus at home – and confirms the view that Midi has the strongest squad in its history.
“This result makes it even more vital that the club survives and our top priority now is to find a new ground to allow the club to continue,” said President Dalling.