OLD stager Liaqat Ali came to the rescue as the title credentials of Rolls-Royce Leisure looked likely to suffer a blow in a nailbiting clash with Clifton Village 2nd in Division A of the Gunn And Moore South Notts League.
ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE 147
CLIFTON VILLAGE 143
Under a new off-the-field regime, Rolls have flourished this season into title favourites with just one reverse all season.
But after a below-par score in tough batting conditions last weekend, they were on the ropes.
However, up stepped 41-year-old Ali and fellow bowler, skipper Saleem Karim, to pull a rabbit out of the hat and inspire a narrow four-run victory with incisive performances with the ball that yielded four victims apiece.
Chasing a target of just 148, Clifton, who sit in fourth place, would have fancied their chances, albeit on a tough wicket.
And they got off to a decent start in the hands of opener Alex Turner (27, one four).
What’s more, the extras were compiling too quickly for everyone in the Rolls set-up and eventually contributed 39 to the score.
Paul Macmillan also stroked 30 (one six and two fours) from number six.
But the rest of the Clifton line-up had little or no answer to Ali and Saleem with only two other batsmen making it past double figures.
Ali finished with figures of four for 38 from 14.4 overs and his captain, who had opened the bowling after tea, finished with four for 43 from 13.
Earlier, Rolls had struggled and were thankful for just four contributions of note from their batsmen.
The star of the show was Shaharyar Aslam, who hit 46 (one six and five fours).
Rahim Karim provided 32 (two sixes and three fours), opener Wasim Karim compiled 21 (four fours) and that man Ali hit a crucial 11 not out coming in as number 11.
No-one else in the order made it past five as Turner (three for 20 from 8.5 overs) came on as third change and polished of the Rolls innings inside 37 overs. Macmillan also took advantage of the conditions with four for 60 from 12 overs.