Firsts win ‘one of the best for years’

The Leicester Mercury dubbed the Firsts win in the top of the table clash with Kibworth as one of the best Everards Premier League matches for years as they pulled off their third final over victory of the season.

Sports writer Jon Paul’s take on the seven run win can be found here.

With a 45 point lead going in to the game at Fleckney Road and with 30 points for bat first wins, both sides harboured hopes of finishing top ahead of the game but with the 30 point win, brought about by Liam Kinch’s two wickets from the last two balls stretched the Firsts lead over now second placed Kegworth to 62 points with seven games to go.

Having lost the toss and being put in by Kibworth Sileby lost Dave Torr (10) early before Luke Gale and Jake Gillett repaired the damage with a stand of 59 before both men departed in the 19th over. Gale had hit seven fours and two maximums in his score of 50 before being bowled by Charles Page-Morris and then Gillett was run out by Mahang Patel for 16 two balls later.

The loss of Kinch five overs later, with the score on 101, seemed to put the home side on the front foot but skipper Jigar Naik and Mitchell Buck set about a major repair job with a stand of 137 in 25 overs to take their side past the 250 mark heading in to the closing overs.

Naik, playing against his former side, finished unbeaten on 71 from 99 balls while Buck was out, caught by Richard Jackson off Matt Bashford (2-55), for 80 with nine balls to spare. The Sileby keeper, who gained the man of the match spoils for his display in both the first and second innings, hit seven fours and three maximums in his 69 ball knock.

A further 13 runs were added from the final nine balls to see Sileby through to 251 for 5 from their 50 overs.

The Kibworth opening pair of Sunil Patel and Matt Craven posted 50 inside the first ten overs. But, not for the first time this season, the entry of Neil Pullen in to the attack brought about a change in fortunes for the Mill Laners.

He removed Patel, caught by Torr for 23, and followed that up by trapping Josh Peel in front for six eight overs later with only ten runs being added as Pullen and Aaron Smith, whose ten overs off the reel cost just 41 runs, turned the screw.

Peel’s dismissal saw the shackles broken somewhat as PJ van Biljon showed his class to put the pressure back on the Sileby bowlers. The loss of Craven, leg before to Naik for 32, with 87 on the board proved to be a turning point for the home side as van Biljon combined with Hamish Merriman in a fourth wicket stand of 110 in 19 overs.

Just as things were starting to look like they were heading in Kibworth’s direction heading in to the last ten overs the Sileby spinners got to work.

Naik’s return to the attack accounted for van Biljon for a fluent 84 from 63 balls, with Buck effecting the first of three stumpings. He was followed soon after by Page Morris, with Naik again earning a positive leg before decision.

Despite those two quick wickets, things looked to be more favourable for Kibworth with 27 needed from the final four overs – once again, enter Pullen (4-37).

He removed David Whitmore (6) from the first ball of the 47th over and then combined with Buck in the penultimate over to have Merriman stumped for a well-made 65. Tucked in between those two dismissals Kinch had Richard Jackson caught behind by Buck leaving all things possible heading in to the final over.

With Kinch entrusted with the final over, two hits would win it going in to the last two balls. The penultimate one was skewed to cover where Glennon took the catch and then Buck completed his third stumping of the day from the final ball to dismiss Mahang Patel (2) and seal a vital 30 points for Sileby and leave Kibworth dropping to third.

With seven games to go, there’s now a 62 point gap between the top two ahead of the round 15 games, which sees Sileby host Loughborough Town at Mill Lane.

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