Andover 1st XI took a step closer to sealing second place in Division 1 of the Southern Premier League after a 50-run victory over rivals Calmore Sports.

Nordlock-sponsored Andover's victory on the edge of the New Forest was spearheaded by the town side's Zimbabwean Internationals Richmond Mutambami (78) and John Nyumbu (3-14).

Batting first in a rain-reduced innings of 45 overs, things got off to an inauspicious start for Andover as they lost openers Glyn Treagus and Harri Williams without scoring.

However, after this early joy for Calmore the Andover middle order of young Ollie Williams (48) and Richmond Mutambami (80) calmed nerves as they rebuilt the innings with a crucial partnership of 115.

Mutambami was particularly imperious, showing the sort of form that has piqued the interest of the Zimbabwean national selectors for an international comeback.

He set about the Calmore attack, despite the bowler-friendly conditions, hitting 13 fours and 1 six in his 67 ball innings.

By the time he was removed, Andover were in a much healthier position on 118 with 15 overs remaining.

Alongside brother Josh (7), Ollie Williams took on the aggressive role, hitting some lusty blows until being removed for a crucial 49.

Some selfless late-order hitting, particularly Matt Hooper (20*), helped nudge the town side up to 178 of their 45 overs, a solid total in tough batting conditions. Spinners Liam Carty (3-29) and Ben Perry (2-50) were the pick of the Calmore bowlers. 

After yet another rain shower during the tea break, Calmore were required to chase 161 of 37 overs.

Andover were looking to make early inroads into the Calmore side and evergreen seamer Babu Veettil (3-25) duly delivered.

He struck early to pick up the Calmore top 3, including key men Ben Johns and Liam O'Connor.

Despite this early setback, Calmore attempted to counter attack with Mark Lavelle and Ben Fisher attempting to take the aggressive option against John Nyumbu and Mike Adams.

Nyumbu (3-14) however had the last laugh. After consulting with his leadership group, he managed to outfox Lavelle with a canny piece of spin bowling to leave Calmore reeling 35 for 4.

There was some resistance from Fisher (24) and Dey (23) but veterans Mike Adams (2-24) and Matt Hooper (1-20) removed the rest of the Calmore middle order, leaving the Forest side teetering on the edge of defeat at 90 for 7. Skipper Nyumbu and Ollie Williams (1-4) finished the job to bowl Calmore out for 110.

Andover travel to Hook and Newnham Basics for their final game of the 2023 season, knowing that a win will guarantee them second place.