Kimberley Institute’s title push continued with another win at home over visiting Radcliffe-on-Trent.
Tom Rowe starred with the bat as his unbeaten 93 saw Kimberley home with ten overs to spare as they chased down Radcliffe’s 192 for the loss of just four wickets.
Alex King asked Radcliffe to bat first and then had to wait a while for a breakthrough as openers Dan Mason (21) and Ben Carr (17) defended resolutely, although they didn’t score very quickly and the score was only on 42 in the 19th over when Ben Savage (3-22) finally got Kimberley on the board by bowling Carr.
Savage’s unerring accuracy was in evidence again when Mason played on trying to cut the ball to make it 49-2 in the 21st over.
Ross Carnelley (13) and Rob Sutton (71) moved the score to 74-2 in the 27th over before the former offered Rowe a simple catch to give Savage a deserved third wicket.
Two more wickets fell shortly after as Radcliffe slipped to 95-5 with spin twins Chris Glover (1-53) and King (3-58) picking off Jake Fish via a top edge off Glover to Savage at short fine-leg and King saw off his opposite number Dave Lucas thanks to a sharp catch from George Bacon at slip.
Sutton and Wasim Rana (16) stopped the rot with a stand of 45 for the sixth wicket and tried to up the scoring rate somewhat, but after such a slow start they were fighting against the tide to try and get Radcliffe even to full batting points at 225.
With Sutton still in they had a chance as he brought up a hard fought half-century, but with Rana cleaned up by King shortly after Radcliffe were back in trouble at 140-6, and even more so as King struck again to remove Sutton via a Jack Blatherwick catch and Bacon (2-36) got in on the act as he had James Marshall (7) well caught by Rowe to make it 161-8 in the 46th over.
A frustrating ninth wicket stand between Jacob Deavin-Baker (19*) and Usman Muzaffar (11) added 29 runs and pushed the visitors close to 200 before Bacon finished things off in the final over; King holding on to remove Muzaffar, before Bacon ran-out last man Harbottle and Radcliffe were all out for 192 with two balls left of the innings.
Openers Shaun Levy (25) and Alex Aldred (1) moved the score to 18 in the fourth over before Lucas (1-41) trapped the latter lbw.
Enter Rowe to counter-attack and add 60 with Levy for the second wicket as he led the way in piling the pressure back onto the bowlers with some textbook drives.
How might things have been different had slip held onto a chance when Rowe was only in the teens, but he made the away side pay with another cultured innings.
The loss of Levy with the score on 78 in the 17th over to Marshall (1-23) was a bump in the road for Kimberley’s progress, but with Sam Johnson (16) looking good and Rowe moving to his sixth half-century in the NPL this season via a six off Muzzafar, that was all it seemed as they moved to 112-2.
Harbottle’s one and only over brought 15 runs, including eight from wides, but Johnson managed to get stumped off one of them to make it three down in the 24th over.
Rowe dominated a stand of 28 with Dominic Brown (5) before the latter miscued Muzzafar (1-42) to Carr at point to make it 140-4.
Bacon (20*) played it cool and helped to add 53 unbeaten runs with Rowe who it seemed might just sneak to three figures, but with eight runs needed Muzzaffar conceded five wides and it was left for Bacon to apply the coup de grace instead with a boundary. Rowe in all struck 11 fours and one six in his 93 and took his league tally past 700 runs for the season.
Whilst the win on its own was good, other results went Kimberley’s way as they moved 21 points clear of Caythorpe who moved back into second place.
With four games left to play Kimberley know that three wins will secure them the title and they go to the Cavaliers next week on the back on nine games unbeaten in the NPL.