Kimberley Institute’s bid for NPL survival will go into the final week as they fought hard but couldn’t get the better of the title-chasing West Indian Cavaliers.
The hosts’ win owed much to former Kimberley man Akhil Patel as he hit 137 not out, the sort of big match innings Kimberley never saw enough of to see his side home.
Sam Ogrizovic won the toss and opted to bat first on what looked like a good batting track and as Paldip Sidhu (15) and Jon Terry (28) rattled up 33 runs in the first seven overs it seemed a very good decision; that was until Aatif Ali (4-49) cut short their fun when he clipped the top of Sidhu’s off-stump.
A score of 33-1 became 64-4 as Ali worked his way through the top order: Terry missed a straight one in the 13th over, Bharat Popli (9) played down the wrong line in the 15th and lost his stumps and Ogrizovic was out lbw after a vociferous appeal to leave Kimberley deep in the mire.
They got themselves out of it though as Sam Johnson (83) and Dominic Wheatley (41) batted brilliantly together in a stand of 98 to move the score onto 162-4 in the 38th and set Kimberley up for a good final ten.
That was until Wheatley, who deserved a half-century, played across the line to Usman Afzaal (2-66) and was out lbw.
James Mann (14) and Johnson added 37 more before both lost their heads in the 46th over as Mann took a suicidal single to short mid-wicket and Johnson danced down the pitch to Afzaal and was duly stumped by Bilal Shafayat.
Dominic Brown (15) played a couple of big hits in the final overs as it looked as if Kimberley might get up to around 250, but his fall in the 49th took the momentum out of the innings and, despite the best efforts of Alex King (8*) and Ben Savage (5*), they had to settle for 237-8 at tea.
After the break, Savage (1-27) picked up a deserved wicket when Sadiq Hassan pulled the ball to deep-midwicket with King on hand to take the catch to leave the score at 15-1 in the fifth over.
Patel and Aqib Afzaal (11) moved the score onto 44 before the introduction of King (1-74) did for the latter as he trapped him lbw and with brother Usman (8) edging Chris Glover (2-79) behind in the 17th Kimberley were well in the game with the Cavs at 60-3.
Shafayat (31) joined Patel at the crease in a partnership of 60 which took the Cavs to 120 until Shafayat lofted a catch to Terry at long-off for Glover’s second.
Patel and Dominic Williamson (46*) then added 121 runs which took the home side to victory in the 48th over.
Kimberley go into the final game of the season at home to Caythorpe knowing two points will guarantee NPL safety.
The season ended on a low note for the 2nd XI as they were soundly beaten by Gotham Village in the final of the Popkess Cup.
They made a good start when they reduced Gotham to 41-4 with Ben Savage (3-35) doing much of the damage to leave Gotham in trouble.
They edged slowly back into the game as Bradley North (20) and Rob Goddard (77*) added 28 runs to take the score to 69 before captain Steve Bennett (1-34) had North caught behind, but Goddard then combined with Simon North (28) to add a vital 46 runs before Elliott Bowles (1-26) trapped the latter lbw to leave the scoreboard reading 115-6.
It soon became 127-8 as the miserly Sukhdeep Sidhu (2-19) struck in his final over taking two in two balls with a smart slip catch from Vaughan Hamilton claiming the first.
The ninth wicket stand then turned the game again as Goddard continued to accumulate runs with Jez Hale helping out, Gotham finishing on 181-9.
Goddard was back in action straight after the tea break as he tore through Kimberley’s top order taking 4-28 as they were reduced to 18-5.
Steve Bennett (30) and Luke Tantum (21) decided attack was the best form of defence and added 38 in quick time before Tantum was out.
Bennett and Danny Williams (25) kept Kimberley up with the run-rate and at 82-6 the game was evenly poised - if these two could make a sizeable stand.
But Steve Haworth (3-10) bowled Bennett straight after the resumption and then, after Williams and Ratcliffe (16) had moved the score onto 102, he splayed Williams’ and Ben Crouch’s stumps to all but seal the game for Gotham, Kimberley eventually all out for 112 in the 29th over.