Sarmad Bhatti stars as Walmley beat reigning champions Stratford in Warwickshire League Premier Division opener
STRATFORD begun the defence of their Warwickshire League Premier Division crown with an 86-run reverse at last season’s runners-up Walmley.
Batting first, Walmley set the Panthers a daunting target of 250-7 with the help of a match-defining 111-ball century from Sarmad Bhatti.
Bhatti then helped himself to three wickets as visiting Stratford crumbled to 164 all out in their reply.
It was a disappointing start for the reigning champions, who had opted to field after winning the toss and when Nathan Myers (2-25) removed opener James Bristow (8) with the score on 19, it seemed the perfect start.
However, Callum Herron (40) and Daniel Bromley (19) settled things down and started to get the scoreboard ticking over nicely, before the former was trapped lbw by Josh Colwell (2-53).
Myers then clean bowled Herron, before spinner James Urquhart (1-37) had Sachin Dubb (15) caught out by Josh Hickman to leave Walmley at 108-4 and bring Stratford back into the contest.
The arrival of Bhatti then changed proceedings, as he started to put the hosts in control. Both Bhatti and Arman Dubb (15) rotated the strike well, putting on 64 runs for the fifth wicket before the latter was dismissed by Purser (2-48).
Jamie Hall came to the crease and blasted a quick-fire 19 off just 16 balls until he was bamboozled by Colwell’s corker, leaving Walmley at 205-6.
While Ethan Guinivan perished cheaply to Purser with the score at 222, Bhatti was still sticking around and playing a superb innings, eventually getting to a deserved century which featured nine fours and six maximums.
With the help of 27 extras, Walmley would finish their 50 overs on a daunting 250-7, but certainly a score Stratford know they’re capable of chasing on their day. However, their reply got off to a disastrous start.
There was not a run on the board when the Panthers found themselves two wickets down, as Purser lasted just three balls before he was removed by Hall (3-35) who then sent Nick Pepper back to the pavilion for a golden duck.
Hall struck again not long after, this time Gareth Langman (17) perished as Stratford found themselves in the mire at 29-3.
Josh Hickman was next to the crease and he played a patient innings, combining well with Colwell to steady the shaky Stratford ship. Colwell, though, would only score five before he was clean bowled by Bhatti (3-20).
Hickman continued to plug away, but he would eventually fall for a hard-earned 39 off 87 balls when he sent Shayaan Tahir’s (1-33) delivery into the hands of wicket-keeper Guinivan for his third catch of the game.
New recruit Matt Warren could only add 16 runs on his debut as he became the first of David Clough’s two wickets to leave Stratford reeling at 106-6.
Soon after it was 111-7 when Archie Walker (11) nicked Clough’s delivery and Guinivan was there once again to claim an easy catch.
Henry Smith and Nathan Myers (17) stemmed the flow of wickets somewhat, forming a 31-run partnership that was ended when Bhatti removed Smith for a quick-fire 31.
Sachin Dubb then claimed the wicket of Myers shortly after, putting the Panthers on the verge of defeat at 161-9.
Only three more runs would be added before the Stratford innings came to an end, with Guinivan stumping Mike Brown (1) from Bhatti’s bowling.
Defeat for Stratford means they sit ninth in the fledgling table and they will be hoping to bounce back on Saturday when Bablake visit Swans Nest Lane (noon start).