Andover Cricket continued their push up the Southern Premier Cricket League division one table, beating bottom-placed New Milton after a week off for rain.

Andover retained the same side scheduled to play against Portsmouth the week before when the fixture was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Starting the day in second place in the table, Andover captain Johnny Nyumbu lost the toss and the town side were asked to bat first down in the New Forest.

Andover started cautiously on a pitch that would have undoubtedly been on the receiving end of the unsettled weather. Openers Kelum Watta (14) and Glyn Treagus (4) began well, scoring slowly but playing sensibly. Watta in particular was just starting to get himself and the Andover innings moving when he was caught behind from a good ball with the score on 21.

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Youngster Ollie Banks-Williams joined the experienced Treagus but both found scoring difficult, on a pitch that didn’t suit their stroke-making styles.

Both departed in quick succession and Andover were 23-3 looking like they were going to crumble.

However, Richmond Mutumbami (17) and Joshua Banks-Williams (41) rebuilt the innings, being particularly ruthless on bad ball and the London Road side went beyond 50

. Like with previous batters, Mutumbami was caught just as he was looking to set to score and this brought left-hander Matt Hooper (10).

The score progressed towards 70 when Hooper was bowled taking one risk too many.

Nathan Birks (14) came in and looked very good, again looking like he was just getting used to the pitch before he was also caught and Andover were six wickets down just before they had reached 100.

Banks-Williams was still going though and he was playing very sensibly, waiting for the bad ball whilst others tried to force the scoring.

Babu Veettil (46), Andover’s fourth highest scorer this season, struggled initially to play his normal clean hitting style on the slow pitch but with the help of Banks-Williams, the pair took Andover past the first batting point.

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With the score on 132 Banks-Williams fell for an excellent score, one that was worth a lot more and he had hauled Andover to a promising total.

Veettil then took over the role of the sensible batsman and him and Nyumbu (8) pushed Andover up to 150 before the captain was caught and bowled.

Aidan Jansen (11) and Veettil ran well and took Andover up to 170 before Veettil was run-out trying to keep the strike towards the end of their innings.

Mike Adams was last to fall with the score on 183 and Andover had set a very respectable total on a difficult pitch.

Andover knew that New Milton batters would be looking to utilise their home advantage using their knowledge of their home pitch.

Andover bowled well with openers Aidan Jansen (13-0) and Babu Veettil (33-1) were patient allowing the pitch to do some of the work for them.

However, the New Milton batters were also patient and progressed to 50 before Mike Adams picked two wickets, both bowled, and the New Forest side were 54-2.

Nyumbu (29-4) introduced himself and he found prodigious spin and variable bounce.

He immediately picked up the dangerous looking New Milton opener and he reduced the bottom of the table side to 73-3.

It then seemed survival was the order of the day and the batters looked to play out Nyumbu and Adams.

Sensing this Nyumbu changed his bowlers bringing on Ollie Banks-Williams (10-1) and fellow spinner Hooper (16-1).

Hooper picked up the next wicket, despite struggling having not bowled a lot this year, with a catch at cover for Jansen and the score was 80-4.

Again Nyumbu rotated his bowlers and the returning Veetil picked up his first wicket, expertly caught in the gulley by stretching Birks and New Milton had lost half their wickets for 100.

New Milton were starting to fall behind the rate and knew they had to take risks.

After a small partnership that took New Milton within 50 runs of the Andover total they took one risk too many.

With a ball from Veettil was missed by the batter they took an extremely risky single to wicket-keeper Mutumbami who threw down the stumps and New Milton were 122-6.

This was the beginning of the end for New Milton and they then lost their last four wickets for just four more runs. Nyumbu deservedly took three more and Ollie Banks-Williams also picked up a wicket after bowling with good pace and control. 

New Milton fell 57 runs short, a large total on a difficult pitch, and the win was down to Andover’s long batting order and controlled bowling.

This victory leaves Andover in second place chasing down Basingstoke, who also won, for the fight to the one and only promotion spot.

Andover welcome Ventnor from the Isle of Wight to London Road on Saturday looking to maintain their unbeaten run in the hope that Basingstoke slip up on the run towards the end of the season.