Andover came agonisingly short against league leaders Basingstoke on Saturday at London Road in Southern Premier League division one cricket campaign.

Defeat for the town side deservedly handed the title to Basingstoke with two games to go in the season.

Basingstoke won the toss at a dry and humid London Road Sports Ground and they decided to bat first on a good-looking pitch.

The Andover opening bowlers of Aidan Jansen (12-0) and Babu Veettil (26-2) started well, restricting Basingstoke to very few scoring opportunities.

Captain Johnny Nyumbu introduced Mike Adams (49-2) and spinner Matt Hooper (55-0) to try and get the breakthrough, and the plan worked as Adams had the Basingstoke opener caught behind with the score on 33.

This partnership started to increase the scoring rate for the Mays Bounty side and Andover, sponsored by Nordlock, looked like they could lose control.

Andover's normally reliable fielding started to become a bit ragged and the pressure put onto them by the batsman seemed to being felt by the fielders. 

Nyumbu (33-3) noticed this and again rang the changes bringing himself into the attack and it was he who removed the dangerous-looking Neal, well caught by Ollie Banks-Williams and Basingstoke were 89-2.

Nyumbu was bowling well and 40 runs later he removed the other Basingstoke opener and the innings could swing either way.

Basingstoke had a good platform to score a big score but Andover knew if they bowled and fielded well they could restrict the scoring by taking regular wickets.

Veettil returned and he picked up the net wicket, caught behind by Richmond and Mutumbami, with the score on 134-4.

The Basingstoke batters started to take more risks as Nyumbu rotated his bowlers well.

Hooper returned and was unlucky to have a missed stumping but Veettil picked up another wicket to reduce the league leaders to 167-5 with under 10 overs to go.

Towards the end of the innings Nyumbu brought himself back into the attack with Adams and Ollie Banks-Williams, and all three picked up wickets and the innings ended with the score on 215-8, a score that seemed about par for the pitch.

The first innings had been built around laying a solid foundation so Andover were looking to do the same.

Unfortunately, things didn't quite go to plan and Andover found themselves 14-3.

Opener Glyn Treagus (5) was caught at cover looking to drive a full delivery. 

Other opener Kelum Watta was removed without scoring from a brute of a delivery that caught the glove and Ollie Banks-Williams (4) was also caught.

Things didn't get a huge amount better when Joshua Banks-Williams (14) was bowled 17 runs later and Andover were 31-4.

Andover knew they had to rebuild and take the score up towards the total without taking too much risk, laying the platform that they had hoped to at the start of the innings.

Overseas star Richmond Mutumbami (46) and Hooper (27) did just this, taking Andover up towards 100 when Mutumbami fell caught off the left-arm spinner.

Hooper was trying to up the rate but struggled against the spin-dominated bowling attack and he was caught at midwicket and Andover were 105-6.

Needing to go at four-an-over with four wickets left was going to be a challenge but not impossible.

Nathan Birks (45) immediately looked settled with the big task but he soon lost the big-hitting Veettil for just seven.

Skipper Nyumbu (42*) joined Birks and both looked in the mood to have a good crack at chasing down the total.

This pair added 73 runs in no time, scoring all around the wicket and both clearing the rope to keep Andover in with a chance of winning the game, but also staying within touching distance of the league leaders.

Birks had to take risks and with 40 runs needed he fell going for yet another big shot.

Birks had given Andover a chance and Nyumbu continued where he left off, continuing to strike the ball cleanly and hitting the boundary.

It came down to 14 off the last over and following a single from Nyumbu, Jansen (1) selflessly was run out trying to give the strike back to Nyumbu.

Andover needed 13 runs from the last four balls but the Basingstoke bowler Neal, produced four brilliant deliveries and Nyumbu was unable to get a clean strike on any and the Andover innings ended on 205-9.

This handed a 10-run victory, and the title, to Basingstoke after they have had a brilliant season, only losing one game all summer.

Andover, now only have second place to play for and travel to Calmore Sports and Hook and Newnham Basics for their last two games of the season.

Andover will be looking to win both to retain second spot and to cap what has been a brilliant summer, following promotion into this division last season.