ASTWOOD BANK are just one step from Lord’s after a thrilling two-wicket win over Langtons in Sunday’s National Village Cup quarter-final.
A brilliant unbeaten ninth-wicket partnership of 56 between Paul Daws and Joel Haslam saw Bank snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to set up a home semi-final against formidable North Yorkshire outfit and reigning champions Sessay on August 6.
The victory in Leicestershire was tenison-filled and a truly memorable one for Bank, who were staring at defeat on 106-8 with 56 required from 12 overs.
However, wicketkeeper Daws and opening bowler Haslam held their nerve brilliantly, nudging their way towards the target and getting their side over the line to spark scenes of jubilation among the visiting players and a travelling contingent of supporters who filled two coaches.
Club spokesman Jason Adams said: “Although the competitive pressure was thick in the air as the prize was so great, both teams played the game in such a great sporting manner and it most definitely wasn’t marred with any controversy or ill-feeling. Cricket was the winner.
“The next game is going to be a whopper and will require a super-human performance by the team. Sessay are a superb outfit and have won this competition twice in the last seven seasons, including last year.
“As the crowd could push 1,000, we intend to do as much as we can to make this a great day for all visitors.”
Langtons won the toss and elected to bat first on a slow and low-looking wicket but it was Bank who could not have got off to a better start as Tom Harris reduced the hosts to 2-2 in the third over.
This brought Mubarak Patel to the crease and, despite the fragile state of Langtons’ innings, he unleashed a flurry of big sixes before being trapped LBW by Haslam for 30.
The Langtons innings never really got going though and they lost wickets regularly thanks to tidy spells from Harris, Haslam, Dan Taylor, Andrzej Jagielski, whose eight overs cost only 16 runs, and Sam Thomas.
However, the innings was punctuated throughout with flurries of boundaries which boosted the hosts’ total whenever it looked to be faltering.
Langtons finished on 161 all out with two balls remaining of their allotted 40 overs. Mohamed Badabai held most of the innings together with a patient 25 as Harris (4-28) and Haslam (4-32) particularly impressed.
After tea, the Astwood Bank innings began with a boundary but it was soon in trouble as Alex Robinson, Tom Pedley Tom Underhill and Thomas all fell for single-figure scores, leaving the run chase in trouble at 43-4 after ten overs.
Despite loose shots accounting for three of the four wickets, Ryan Blakemore found the boundary regularly and was looking well set after hitting a big six in Asif Mai’s final over.
However, he was dismissed for 29 straight afterwards attempting a repeat of the shot and this left Astwood Bank 75-5.
Peter Alexander attempted to rebuild the innings but wickets continued to fall and the innings was in tatters when Alexander was dismissed for 22, leaving the visitors on 106-8 from 28 overs.
This left Daws and Haslam needing 56 from 12 overs with only Taylor to come. Rather than attempt to hit big sixes on a tricky wicket, Daws and Haslam slowly inched Bank back into the game thanks to some deft nudges, quick running and the occasional Haslam boundary.
Langtons’ buoyancy soon began to fade as Daws and Haslam, aided by the noisy Astwood Bank support, continued to put the fielding side under pressure.
After 36 overs the game was still in the balance at 141-8 and by the end of the 39th over the equation was simpler as six runs were required off as many balls.
After a Daws single from the first ball, Haslam then swept Patel for four to all but seal victory. A single was scampered next ball to give Bank victory with three balls to spare, sending the raucous travelling support into a frenzy.
Haslam ended on a superb 35 not out and Daws was unbeaten on 15.
BANK lost top spot in Birmingham League Division Three on Saturday when they match at home to Newport was abandoned.
The hosts, who collected six points, were in trouble on 134-9 off 47.3 overs when the rain arrived. Tom Pedley made 31 and Sam Thomas an unbeaten 42.
Steve Adshead’s second placed Bank, who trail leaders Lichfield by eight points, host Handsworth on Saturday.