The 4th XI produced some form with the bat last weekend as they got out of the doldrums and finally put some decent runs on the board. Both the 4th and 5th XI’s have been struggling to post totals for a while now but all the hard work that has gone in at net sessions from both players and the coaching staff finally bore some fruit at the weekend. It was to be a losing chase, though, as Phoenix conceded way too many runs thanks to over a half dozen easy chances being put down and many misfields throughout the day. However they kept fighting and gave the chase of 192 a run for it’s money that would barely have been conceivable just a week before.
The standout performance of the day, and in fact the season, for the 4th XI was undoubtedly that of Hashmi Khan. He started off by bowling 8-0-34-0 and would have registered in the wickets column on another, more sure handed, day. It was his performance with the bat that was truly noteworthy though. Phoenix lost a wicket in the 2nd over and the familiar pattern looked like it might repeat itself. However Khan bedded in and fought hard for his side. He finished with 89 from 114 balls featuring 8 fours and a six. It was a remarkable knock that deserved to end with three figures but, alas, it was not to be.
Pembroke won the toss and elected to bat on a day the ended up being a belter. The pitch looked good and when the cloud cover made way for bright sunshine and high temperatures runs look destined to come. Willis and Clissman settled in nicely for the visitors but were aided by some slack fielding. Coming only a week after what the club’s Head Coach described as one of the best he had ever seen at the club it was a little disappoint. All the more so because the bowling was superb from all seven men deployed into the attack. There are plenty who could feel a little aggrieved that they ended with 0 in the wicket column and a few more than they deserved against their name in the runs column.
Khan and Hughes opened up and troubled the Pembroke batsmen but chances didn’t go to hand or stick when they did. This prompted a change and John Anders and Dev Dismore were introduced into the attack. Again there was good pressure from the bowlers as they severely tested the batsmen in their spell. However just as pressure started to build invariably a misfield led to a boundary to ease things. Straight forward chances also continued to go down as a testing day in the field was made all the more trying by the errors.
When Phoenix finally did spark to life it was no surprise that Dev Dismore proved the catalyst for his side. He finally got the breakthrough as he had Willis (22) trapped LBW. Sayed Shah was on in place of John Anders at the other end and struck second ball cleaning up Clissmann (42) with a superb inswinger. All of a sudden the well set openers were gone and it was game on again. Dismore summoned one last big effort for the final over of his spell and took Cresswell’s (0) castle leaving the visitors 74 for 3. The chance was there to be taken as the visitors had lost 3 wickets for 4 runs in the space of three overs.
However no sooner did it appear that Phoenix had upped their game than things began to go downhill again. A couple of sharp chances failed to stick as well as one simple catch and Pembroke were off the hook. Sayed Shah and Shahzaib Malik bowled well in tandem and kept the game from getting away from Phoenix.
A mid innings miracle then occurred as Phoenix actually held a catch as stand in skipper Moore stooped low to cling on to a straightforward chance off the bowling of Malik. Shah then struck in the very next over to leave Pembroke at 120 for 5 and yet again it looked as though Phoenix might wrestle the momentum in their favour but, at this stage, I think you know how this story ends.
Only one more wicket was to fall in the final 13 overs when Ian Anders, who can add his name to the long list who bowled without getting the luck they were due, bowled McCarthy for 9. Craig Senior and Ben Sissini brought all their experience to the fore at the end of the innings as they were unhurried and batted without panic knowing they already had a solid base set. With extras continually coming their way too neither man needed to score at better than a run a ball but yet Pembroke posted a very competitive total. The pair added an unbeaten 53 to move the final score along to 192 for 6 after 40 overs.
Phoenix needed to bring everything they had to the party to avoid another batting performance like that of the previous week and the order was reshuffled. Both Anders were sent out to open but Ian Anders (1) got a good one early and Phoenix fell to 4 for 1 in the second over. There was to be no panic or slump this time, though, as John Anders and Hashmi Khan went about their business in a calm and sensible manner. Both played straight and got their head over the ball until they got their eye in and then began to expand their shot selection once settled in. It was an invaluable partnership of 54 runs that ensured Phoenix were in the game come the second half of their innings.
There was a double blow around drinks as first Godwin (3) fell LBW then O’Donnell (1) nicked off and Phoenix were 70 for 4. Khan remained cool and collected as he and Keemar Edwards kept things from getting away from the hosts. They added 45 runs to the total. However with the current run rate at 3.66 runs and over and the required rate at 8.30 for the final 10 overs of the game Phoenix needed to push on and Edwards (20) fell caught at Mid On.
All the while Khan played the game on his own terms. After playing straight early on he opened up with some more aggressive pulls and sweeps. He clubbed the only six of the game over midwicket and then began to unleash the Off Drive with serious venom. The shot of the day, though, was an On Drive for 4 as he skipped down the pitch and pirouetted up onto one leg and stroked the ball to the boundary.
The hard days work was beginning to take it’s toll, though, as 40 overs of fielding and over 2 hours of batting in the hottest conditions of the season began to fatigue him. Sayed Shah (7) did his best to lift the tempo but he fell and the run rate continued to rise.
Dev Dismore was next in and again looked in good nick with the bat. It was a tough spot from him as he had little time to get his eye in but runs were needed quickly. He did his best to play for his team and swung and missed at a few but eventually got going and unleashed a couple of mighty blows. He was to finish unbeaten on 16 from 21 balls at the end.
Every run was crucial at this stage as Phoenix were 32 runs shy of the total with 18 balls remaining. Dismore and Khan scrambled 1,2,2 off the first 3 balls of the 38th over before Khan was struck down with cramp. He collected himself and tried to get the next ball away but was finally bowled bringing an end to a fantastic innings both as a personal achievement but also as superb effort for his team and team mates. Hashmi scored 89 runs from 114 balls hitting 8 fours and 1 six having spent 2 hours and 37 minutes at the crease.
With that the chance of an unlikely victory was gone. Moore (1) LBW and Malik (0) fell as Phoenix looked to come up with some unlikely late fence clearing fireworks. Hughes (3*) did manage to see of Craig Senior’s hat trick ball in the final over and Phoenix eventually finished up 17 runs shy of their target.
It was good to see the team show some real fight with the bat, though, and there were some notably good partnerships as the team batted as a collective rather than individuals. Khan & Anders (54), Khan & Edwards (45), Khan & Shah (23) and Dismore & Khan (23) showed just how many runs good team orientated batting can put on the board. Hopefully this will carry over as the 4th XI now have three consecutive home games in which to make hay wit the bat.
Man of the Match: Hashmi Khan
The entire 4th XI would also like to thank Helen Caird for taking the time to score the entire game.