Otters triumph in last over thriller at Shobrooke Park
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On a perfect summer’s day, Ottery St Mary 1st XI’s visit to the beautiful surroundings of Shobrooke Park produced a terrific game of cricket, won by the Salston Field outfit with just one ball to spare, writes Ian Townsend.
On the back of a fine century from overseas Jareer Shikrani, Shobrooke posted a 200-plus total which was looking like a match winner when the Otters suffered a middle order collapse.
However, a battling knock from in-form opener Alex Clements and some late innings fireworks from Harsha Liyanage saw the visitors over the line.
Park were given a fine start by Shikrani who totally dominated a 77-run opening stand with Neil Branton (9) before the introduction of Jody Clements removed the latter, courtesy of a catch by Joe Birch.
Despite Jody Clements bowling with typical control, Shikrani and Jonathon James (46 with five fours) then both played fluently in constructing a fine 99-run stand which was only broken when James was neatly stumped by teenage 'keeper Lawrence Walker off leg spinner Ollie West.
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Dan Robbins (7) soon became the first of three victims for visiting skipper Will Harrison and Henry Dare (0) gave Birch a second catch off Jody Clements (2-23), but Shikrani powered on past his century before being castled by Harrison for 118 (17 fours and a six).
Bruce Kerry (0) edged Harrison (3-35) behind to Walker as Shobrooke closed on 210-6.
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West (23) and Alex Clements gave the Otters a 39-run start before the former edged Robbins (2-41) behind to Branton and when Joe Henkus (13) gave Jonty Brett a catch off the same bowler, the Otters stood at 60-2.
Worse was to follow as the introduction of spin blew away the visitors' middle order. Walker (5) was bowled by Chris Ford who then removed both of the Mutter brothers, Henry and George, in identical fashion, caught and bowled without scoring. At 78-5, Ottery were staring defat in the face.
However, Alex Clements, who had been battling away in typically phlegmatic style, then added 38 in the company of brother Jody (17) before being joined by the ever-positive Liyanage.
The Sri Lankan played his shots from the off and with Alex Clements also beginning to open up, 64 were added in quick time before Clements' fine knock was ended at 78 (five fours and two sixes) as he fell to a catch by James off Ford.
As the tension rose, the Otters crept past the 200 mark before Birch (5) became a fifth victim for the wily Ford (5-27).
Liyanage, though, was scoring at a run-a-ball and after Harrison (6*) blasted a precious boundary, with two required for victory, Liyanage (38*) produced a typically audacious flick over the wicketkeeper to guide his side home from the penultimate delivery of an excellent contest.
The Otters' skipper was understandably content with a second successive victory for his charges when he reflected: "Great for us to get the win, but we made hard work of it! We struggled to take wickets until the end of their innings but we bowled tightly so we were pretty happy chasing that total.
"Another good knock from Alex got us going but we didn't handle their slow bowlers well. Composure under pressure from Harsha at the end saw us over the line though".
On Saturday (July 13) Ottery host a Heathcoat 2nds who went top of the table after their win over Braunton last weekend.
Shobrooke Park 210-6 (J Shikrani 118, J James 46, W Harrison 3-35, J Clements 2-23) Ottery St Mary 213-8 (A Clements 78, H Liyanage 38*, O West 23, C Ford 5-27, D Robbins 2-41). Ottery St Mary (18pts) bt Shobrooke Park (9pts) by 2 wkts.
Otters Man of the Match - Alex Clements