Kimberley Institute moved a step closer to the NPL title after beating time and the elements to claim a thrilling win at Birchover Park against the West Indian Cavaliers.
Kimberley, who bowled their hosts out with just 16 balls to spare, were indebted to two partnerships for the win.
In the batting department Sam Johnson (72) and Dominic Brown (62) rescued the innings with a battling stand of 124 after Kimberley were 11-2 and spin twins Alex King (4-48) and Chris Glover (4-28) combined to knock over the Cavaliers as they lost their last five wickets for just six runs.
On a sultry day King opted to bat first on what looked a result wicket – and so it was to prove.
It seemed like it might be the Cavs who would be on the right end of the result though as Kafeel Shafique (1-62) and Corey Collymore (1-55) both struck in a tight opening spell to remove Shaun Levy and Alex Aldred.
Tom Rowe (22) looked to play his usual combative innings, but struggled for fluency in a stand of 42 with Johnson, which helped to rebuild the innings after the bad start only for Rowe to fall just after drinks to Bilal Shafayat (1-18), with the score on 53-3 in the 19th over.
With four batsmen having scored over 500 runs each this season the chances are that one or two them will come to the fore and make a score. In this instance it was Johnson and Brown who dug deep, ran hard and hauled Kimberley back into the game with a fine century stand.
With the heat sapping energy and the slow outfield limiting the boundaries, the pair worked hard to nullify the Cavs bowlers as Shafayat shuffled his pack in search of a wicket.
The introduction of spin in the form of Akhil Patel and Usman Afzaal (1-31) allowed for the run-rate to rise as they bled runs at five-an-over as Kimberley began to gain the upper-hand.
It was spin though that eventually broke the stand as Brown was tempted by a floaty deliver from Afzaal only to pick out Patel at long-off with the score on 177-4 in the 44th over.
With Johnson falling next over, bowled by Mousin Qayyum (1-34), there was a danger that the innings might tail off in the final overs, but George Bacon (31*) and King (22*) gave Kimberley some fresh legs as they plundered an invaluable 53 runs off the final five overs to finish on 235-5 leaving Cavs a difficult chase.
It became all the more difficult as Ben Savage (1-21) and Jack Blatherwick (1-21) both struck with the new ball to leave the Cavs rocking at 9-2; Savage bounced Afzaal, who topped edged a hook straight to Rowe at fine-leg - just as the first rain interruption arrived in the second over.
Fifteen minutes later play restarted and not long after that Blatherwick trapped Dominic Williamson lbw and Kimberley were well on top in the fifth over.
Shafique (32) and Patel (33) set about trying to rebuild the Cavs innings as they added 72 together and whilst the score was roughly in a similar place to Kimberley’s it felt as if they were leaving too much to be done later on as the required rate went past six-an-over.
Another rain break had taken the players off for a further 15 minutes, meaning that any further interruptions would eat into the remaining overs.
With the score at 81-2 in the 25th over Kimberley got amongst the wickets once more with Bacon taking the first of several good catches at slip as he made up the ground to take a looping bat-pad chance offered by Patel that gave King his first wicket.
Glover then followed up by removing Shafique at 83-4 in the 26th over as the game was tilting towards Kimberley.
With captain Shafayat falling to the same bowler, bowled when sweeping, in the 30th over it was 105-5 and the game shifted further still towards Kimberley.
Two overs later the rain came again with a vengeance and took the players off for nearly half an hour meaning only 11 more overs would be possible.
The Cavs disintegrated in the space of four overs going from 127-5 to 132-9. King struck first as former Kimberley opener Paldip Sidhu (9) edged to Bacon at slip and he pouched another catch.
Rehan Iqbal (28) was the next to fall as he went for one shot too many and Aldred was in action again in the ring to give Glover his third and another point was secured. When Bacon held a sharp chance offered by Shafique to give King his third it was 8 down and the Mikey Millwood continued the trend for loose shots by hitting Glover straight to Brown at cover and the Cavs were nine down and Kimberley sensed victory.
The final wicket pair of Qayyum and Collymore were left with seven nervy overs to try and play out to avoid defeat.
But King beat Qayyum’s defences as Kimberley claimed another vital 20pts and moved a step closer to the title.
The win knocks the Cavaliers out of the chase and a surprise defeat for Caythorpe at home to Ordsall Bridon effectively does the same to them,
Plumtree moved back into second after beating Radcliffe with the gap now 23pts with three to play.