by Conor Dillon
After the mysterious non-fixture against Four Oaks the venue for your correspondent’s 200th 1st xi match was The Vineyard at Milverton against title challengers The Hills. Conor Kelly returned to captain the side. Rory Anders dropped out of the side due to his provincial commitments but otherwise it was the same team that played Leinster. However, in an interesting move Andrew Leonard was to open the batting. The Hills won the toss and inserted Phoenix. The batting order was Syed Ali, Andrew Leonard, Duminsany Magala, Riaan Jeggels, M D Masud Ahmed, Captain Conor Kelly, Corie Dickeson, Thomas Anders, Bramen Adams, Steve Davis, Sadaf Raza.
Ali was bowled by the veteran Naseer Shoukat for 2 in the first over. Leonard was in aggressive form and with one six and three fours he progressed to 21 before being caught by Jonathan Andrews to give Shoukat a second victim. In his last game for Phoenix Jeggels fell lbw to Shoukat for 8. Duminsany Magala batted steadily to make 26 from 51 balls. He and Masud Ahmed both fell to Joe Clinton with the Bangladeshi making 14.
Captain Kelly and Corie Dickeson added 37 runs in just 24 minutes to make it 124 for 6. The real fireworks were yet to come as Dickeson had one of those days when he made a telling contribution and with Thomas Anders in good form at the other end the runs were flowing nicely for Phoenix. Dickeson was stumped to give Shoukat a fourth victim but with Anders supported ably by Adams their stand added 66 in 29 minutes. Anders ended undefeated on 76 with three sixes and seven fours – his first 1st xi half century. The innings closed on 247 for 7.
There was early success for Phoenix when Magala had Pretorius caught by Ali in the first over . 1 for 1. Phoenix had to take it on the chin for some time after this as Baumgart and McDonnell added 90 in 77 minutes for the second wicket. They say one wicket brings two and so it proved for Phoenix as McDonnell was bowled by Raza for 31 and Baumgart was caught by Ali for 43 bowled Davis. Both fell with the total on 91.
Shoukat and McLoughlin now carried the baton for The Hills against Raza, Davis and Adams and it was the South African who made the next breakthrough for Phoenix when he had McLoughlin caught by Captain Kelly for 25. At 152 for 4 after 35 overs The Hills needed 96 runs from 15 overs with 6 wickets in hand. The home scorer felt they would have difficulty getting over 240. Raza, Adams and Davis were unable to add to their one wicket each and Andrew Leonard was introduced to the attack.
One never knows how a Leonard delivery will work out and there was a mixture of wides, poor balls and some which posed difficulty for the batsmen. Leonard took wickets in his second and third overs while at the other end Magala took out Andrews and Joe Clinton. The Hills needed 8 runs an over from the last 3 overs with 2 wickets in hand. They got 8 runs off Leonard and 8 runs off Davis. Who would bowl the last over? Captain Kelly persisted with Leonard and a four off the first ball was followed by two dot balls and a wicket. The number eleven managed a thick inside edge down to fine leg and they managed to run three. A single off the last ball completed the misery for Phoenix.
Man of the Match Naseer Shoukat 4-35, 41 runs
Phoenix performer Thomas Anders 76 not out