Saqlain Mushtaq kills off Rolls title hopes

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Just as it was last season, a veil was drawn over ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE’S Notts Premier League (NPL) season by arch rivals, West Indian Cavaliers.

The summer of 2013 camde to a close with champions Cavaliers denying Rolls the NPL title by just six points.

Now a five-wicket defeat at the hands of the same side, inspired by veteran Pakistani spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, has killed off their title aspirations of 2014.

It was Rolls’s fifth reverse of the campaign and leaves them as low as seventh in the table, 64 points behind leaders Cuckney with only four matches to play.

In the final month of action, John and Dan Birch’s outfit will be hoping they can salvage some pride from their first season after re-locating from Hucknall to Derby.

Pride was certainly not the word on e veryone’s lips after their sorry batting capitulation against Cavaliers at Birchover Park in Bilborough.

On winning the toss, they elected to take nfirst knock but soon lost Michael Millwood and Gurpej Landa to one of the home team’s new-ball bowlers, Gemaal Hussain (two for 21 in eight overs).

A recovery was threatened by skipper Birch (36, four fours) and opener Shaun Levy (21, three fours), who dug in determinedly and guided Rolls to 70 for three.

However, the arrival into the Cavaliers’ attack of th3 37-year-old Saqlain changed everything.

The ex-Surrey and Sussex tweaker, who took 208 Test wickets and 288 one-day international wickets for his country, removed key man Birch and went on to take six for 34 in 1 brilliant 13.2 -over spell.

Saqlain also trapped Tom Lungley lbw for 13 and wrapped up Rolls’s innings on 112 with three more quickfire wickets at the death. At the other end, Suhail Ahmed was left stranded on 19 not out.

In all, Rolls’s last seven wickets fell for only 42 runs, leaving their bowlers with an almost impossible task after tea. Spinner Matt Roberts (two for 64 in 13 overs) opened the bowling, alongside Lungley. And he struck an early blow when bowling Hussain for one.

But from then on, Cavaliers eased into cruise control, courtesy of former Notts and England man Usman Afzaal, who made 39 (seven fours) to calm any home nerves.

Afzaal did lose Paldip Sidhu (15), caught off Lungley (two for 33 in 12 overs), who bowled well, and then Akhil Patel, run out by Roberts.

And after he himself had departed, swiftly followed by Dominic Williamson, Cavaliers did wobble on 76 for five.

But they were seen home by the 28th over by another ex-Notts man, Bilal Shafayat (29 not out, four fours) and Aaron Thomas (20 not out, three fours).