Hambledon v Andover.
Winning the toss on a typically green Ridge Meadow track, Andover had little hesitation in inserting the home side in spite of the scorching overhead conditions.
This initial enthusiasm quickly waned as veteran seamer David Taylor too often erred in both line and length, allowing the Hambledon openers to cash in at regular intervals.
However, the stand-in skipper’s maverick use of off-spinner Glyn Treagus with the new ball afforded the town side a degree of control on what proved a deceptively good batting surface.
Ultimately, it was the introduction of James Knight which gave Andover their foothold in the game; the gangly left-armer removing Collings-Wells to a sharp catch in the gully.
Shortly after the drinks interval, the timely introduction of leading wicket taker Danny Foy (3-24) reaped immediate dividends.
The leg spinner combined first with keeper Robbie Hadfield before striking twice in two balls to leave Hambledon reeling at 120-4.
However, the home side battled hard for the remainder of their overs and while Knight (4-31) was able to stymie the flow from his end, a series of lusty blows from Hewitt saw Hambledon close on a very competitive 205-7.
Perhaps waylaid by a typically excellent Hambledon tea, Andover’s chase got off to a disastrous start, losing both openers to loose shots inside the first ten overs.
Fortunately, the Andover innings was careful rebuilt as overseas star Byron Haycock combined well with the powerful Max Souter to bring up the Andover hundred.
However, the successive dismissals of the pair opened the door for the home side with the score a shade over 100. While Hadfield and Treagus batted steadily to chip away at the Don’s total, the reintroduction of danger man Pongolo saw Andover’s task stiffen significantly.
As wickets fell at regular intervals, leaving them 30 adrift with only two wickets in hand, hopes began to falter going into the final five overs. However, the town side were rejuvenated by the unlikeliest of batting duos, as Foy backed up his earlier bowling performance with a remarkable match-winning cameo alongside consummate number 11 Knight.
Demonstrating steely temperament and no small amount of panache, the diminutive Foy engineered the run chase to perfection, his 19 not out from just 13 deliveries included two fours and an elegant maximum over deep square leg.
In conjunction with Knight’s invaluable run-a-ball innings, the visitors were left requiring four from the last over. Foy duly delivered the telling blow, guiding Pongolo past the despairing stopper to break Hambledon hearts and secure the visitors a crucial victory going into the business end of the season.