Andover v Basingstoke & NH.
Andover came extremely close to toppling unbeaten Basingstoke and North Hants at a sun-baked London Road on Saturday but fell at the final hurdle in an enthralling encounter.
Skipper Mike Adams, on his return from a work related absence, won the toss and had no hesitation batting first on a hard and flat pitch. Openers David Taylor and Glyn Treagus started positively until Treagus creamed one at mid-off and was well caught. The introduction of South African starlet Byron Haycock saw a slow and steady approach as he played the perfect foil to Taylor's big hitting. The former pro smeared three sixes in another boundary-strewn innings, ending up being caught on 86.
Hard hitting Ali Hooper looked to up the tempo with only 15 overs remaining but the spin duo of Thankachan and Pistorius were utilising the turning pitch to its fullest and restricted Haycock and Hooper to just singles. When Hooper was bowled and Robbie Hadfield run-out, there was potential for a collapse but Matt Knight had other ideas. Haycock once again passed 50 and Knight blazed a quick-fire 20 then Max ended on 18 not out. Haycock finished 92 not out, another superlative innings from the overseas pro who is making a name for himself in this league. The home team ended on a very competitive 249-5 off their 50 overs, a score that would cause Basingstoke a headache chasing down.
The away team started their run chase cautiously, carefully watching the ever-dangerous Taylor and Adams opening pair. Patrick Joseph looked particularly threatening while skipper Dan Coombs supported him well. Unsurprisingly, it was the introduction of spin that saw the first wicket, Joseph being well caught in the deep by Knight off Treagus however, Niblett, who was promoted up the order, smashed an attractive looking 25 to put the away side in contention.
With the game ebbing and flowing, three quick wickets fell to the pace of Luke Graham, who caused all sorts of problems removing Coombs, Niblett and Porter to swing the game back in Andover's favour. Nevertheless, the final laugh was with Basingstoke as Craig hit crucial boundaries and important times.
It all came down to the final over, with just two runs required, and Adams forced them to the final two balls but a quick single won it for Basingstoke in a great game of cricket, played by two good all round teams.
Vision Express sponsored Andover make the short journey to Hook on Saturday where they look to return to winning ways.