THE superb, unbeaten start to the new season by John Birch’s Rolls-Royce Leisure is still intact — but only just!
ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE 164-8
Leaders Rolls were expected to breeze past bottom-of-the-table Belvoir in their sixth game of the Gunn And Moore South Notts League, Division A campaign.
But instead their performance was peppered by sloppy cricket with both bat and ball, and they ended up scrambling home only by two wickets.
Belvoir have yet to win after suffering relegation from the Notts Premier League last season. And when they lost their openers for nought and two to skipper Saleem Karim, Rolls looked set for a comfortable afternoon.
Saleem went on to complete a marathon 16-over spell that yielded fine figures of two for 29. And he was well supported by Husnain Riaz (three for 46 in 12 overs), Shaharyar Aslam (two for 20 in seven) and Ansar Khan (two for 30 in 9.1).
But Rolls still let Belvoir off the hook and post a total far higher than looked likely at 57 for five, 111 for eight and 123 for nine.
The reasons were James Fellows and captain James Clayfield, each of whom made 29, Sam Cliff, who struck a punchy 21 (four fours), and last pair Ryan Lewis and Lee Fazackerley, who put on 40 for the last wicket.
Lewis mixed excellent judgement with suitable pugnacity to lash a six and four fours in 31, while Fazackerley added 11 not out.
Rolls’s overriding feeling at tea was of frustration, which intensified when their top-order batsmen struggled to handle a spell of fast and hostile bowling by Belvoir paceman James Keywood (three for 22 in ten overs).
Keywood removed Mathew Roberts and Arslan Butt cheaply and then Rahim Karim for 22 to restrict Rolls to 51 for three.
Opener Wasim Karim responded with an aggressive 31 that contained one six and four fours.
But a calamitous run-out ended his offensive and when Riaz was trapped lbw, the locals were 85 for five.
To hold them together, they relied heavily on in-form all-rounder Shaharyar, who batted 83 balls for a dogged but occasionally delightful 49 (two sixes and five fours).
Even when he departed on 139, the match remained in the balance until Ansar Khan (13 not out) and Abdul Sultan Khan (12 not out) edged Rolls over the winning line.
ROLLS cruised into the semi-finals of the league’s Twenty20 competition with a ten-wicket demolition of Division A rivals, Ellerslie.
The Hucknall side shot out the home team for just 82, despite 30 from opener Daniel Mierkalns.
Most of the wickets were shared by Husnain Riaz (three for 11 from three overs), Tayyab Khan (two for 17 from four) and Ansar Khan (two for 21 from 3.4).
In reply, Rolls cantered home inside 16 overs, courtesy of an unbroken first-wicket stand between Wasim Karim (40 not out) and Saleem Karim (39 not out).