Nikhil Malhotra's 5 wickets secures tight win
By Jon Kuhrt
Experienced batting and youthful bowling combine to beat East Molesley
As ever in the 4th XI, the team which took the field was almost completely different to the week before. The pitch was certainly unusual with an U10 wicket marked out on top so there were 3 stump holes around half volley length which was a bit disconcerting. The outfield was full of long weeds and holes but was fast and the boundaries were short. Plus, we were all very pleased to see the return of Bevan and Randolph to the fold.
We lost the toss and East Molesley put us into bat. After a promising partnership v Dorking, Jon and Tom Kuhrt opened again together. They batted soundly against a young EM attack who generally bowled too short. After pulling a lovely four, Tom went back again to a short one which kept low and scuttled into his pads and he was unluckily LBW. Martin Stone came out and he and Jon hit the bad balls which were frequent. They took the score to 88 with Martin lofting a cracking straight 6 and Jon pulling a couple of maximums over long leg. But disaster struck in the 18th over when Martin called for a single and then yelled out in pain when he was half-way down the wicket. His calf muscle had popped out and he was run out on 34 as he struggled to even get to the other end. It was such as shame as Martin was continuing the strong form he has shown all year. As Martin was helped off, Bevan came out to bat at 4.
Jon reached his fifty and we had drinks at 104-2. After drinks, things did not quite go to plan with Jon being bowled for 52 off an inside edge, Bevan swinging across the line to a straight one and Randolph (after a couple of big sixes) skying a pull shot to be dismissed for 22. Yash, as always, looked a million dollars but after a couple of classy fours, flicked one off his legs straight to fielder at deep square. Vinay pulled at one down the leg side but demolished his own stumps in the process and then Michael Jones got a good delivery first ball. Nikhil smashed 2 fours and a great six but then was caught at silly mid-off, before Joseph Murphy ran out Danny Sampson and we were all out for 188. On that pitch it was an OK total but it was around 20-30 runs short of what we should have scored.
Vinay and Bevan opened up the bowling and it was clear that EM had some decent batsmen. Both bowled well and Vinay got their skipper bowled and just dropped a caught and bowled shortly after. We kept things quite tight but with only 10 men in the field and a lightening outfield, 4s were not hard to come by. Tom Kuhrt came on to bowl to replace Vinay and immediately got it spinning. He had their number 2 stumped after frustrating him and then controversy occurred when we appealed for another stumping with the batsmen on nought claiming he made his ground, then coming out of his crease afterwards. In retrospect, I was too lenient and allowed him to stay batting. This ended up almost costing us the match as he went on to score 61.
We were always just about in front but EM's batsmen continued to threaten our total over the next 20 overs. Michael Jones and Danny Sampson got through 3 cheap overs between them but Jon's spin was treated harshly. It was when Nikhil came back for his second spell that the match decisively changed. Nikhil got their half-centurion out caught down the leg-side off a glove and then grabbed 2 more wickets in the same over. It meant he secured his first senior 5 wicket haul and won us the match. EM's runs dried up with just their tailenders left and Joe Murphy bowled a couple of decent overs to see the match out.
We ended up winning by just 14 runs which was a bit too close for comfort. Our fielding was OK but we dropped a few straight-forward catches and a few too many fours were let through. But there was a good spirit throughout and, as skipper, I was particularly relieved to get the win.
Thanks to everyone who umpired and to Nikhil and Tom for scoring and for those who helped with transport. And well done team for a good win. Well bowled Nikhil - and get well soon Martin!