Kenilworth Wardens took a giant step towards securing their Birmingham Premier League status for 2016 with a commanding 98-run win at Dorridge, writes Paul Smith.
The visitors’ sixth win in their last seven starts was clinched by three wickets apiece for Nathan Edwards and acting captain Sitanshu Kotak, who combined to shoot the hosts out in the 32nd over for 146.
Fine half-centuries from Keith Bell and Scott Stenning had earlier boosted Wardens to a competitive 244 for six from their 50 overs.
With four matches remaining, the Glasshouse Park club now lie five places above the foot of the table, with a 52-point cushion between themselves and the relegation zone.
A win in either of their Bank Holiday weekend clashes with West Bromwich Dartmouth or Ombersley will complete the mathematical formalities a fortnight prior to the league’s finale.
Stenning joined Bell at the wicket with Wardens struggling at 59 for three. The fourth-wicket pair proceeded to add 98, and in the process both found the boundary eight times before Bell fell to Ali Ebad for 70.
Stenning went on to a 98-ball 75, adding useful late runs with Edwards (28) and Tom Brammer (12 not out).
Ebad finished with two for 35, while seamer Mo Ishtiaq claimed three for 36.
Edwards followed his good batting display by claiming three top-order scalps before Kotak’s variations proved too much for the middle order.
Dorridge’s excellent skipper and long-time pro David Ball proved more resilient than his colleagues, however, and struck seven boundaries in a typically classy 48-ball 49 before falling to Matt Hancock.
This left Edwards to put the seal on his best Birmingham League afternoon to date by running out last man Azam to secure maximum points and, in all probability, Premier League status for Wardens.
A disappointing batting display cost Wardens’ 3rds at Norton Lindsey in Cotswold Hills Division One.
After Wardens won the toss and elected to bat, Norton’s excellent bowling attack dominated proceedings on a humid day.
After Fred Rex scored 32 from the top of the order, Wood’s excellent 85 was a lone crusade as wickets fell regularly at the other end to Richard Blythe (3-38) and Rory Baker (3-35).
Warden’s middle and lower order contributed just 14 runs as they subsided to 171 all out.
In reply, Wardens bowled well with Prabhjote Sahota (2-20) producing an excellent middle-over spell but Blythe (40) and M Hope (45) ensured the home side were always in control.
Sahota removed both men to give Wardens slim hopes of snatching victory but Dan Fell quickly extinguished it with a game-ending 19 not out.
Wardens now need to win their final game to secure their survival, a position they may have accepted at the beginning of the season after recent promotions.