Stratford stay top of Warwickshire Premier Division table with eight-wicket success over Coventry & North Warwickshire
Warwickshire League, Premier Division
Coventry & North Warwickshire 181 all out
Stratford won by eight wickets
STRATFORD laid down a real marker on Saturday after they ended Coventry & North Warwickshire’s 14-game unbeaten run to cement top spot in the Warwickshire Premier Division table.
Last season’s invincible champions, coming into this game on the back of three abandonments, were no match for the in-form Panthers.
Having bowled a dangerous Coventry side out for 181 in the 46th over, Stratford played sensibly in their reply and worked their way to a winning score of 182-2 after 48 overs to come away with an impressive eight-wicket success and 20 points to boot.
Stratford travelled to Binley Road in fine fettle, but knew just how difficult the task would be to beat Coventry on their own turf, especially given the run of form they had been on since the start of the truncated 2020 campaign.
The hosts won the toss and in batsman-friendly conditions skipper Vikram Sodhi opted to bat first so his side could set a challenging target for the prowling Panthers to chase.
However, Coventry got off to a disastrous start and crumbled to 69-4.
Taran Toor was the first to go, being caught out by Josh Colwell from Mike Brown’s (3-44) delivery with the score on 29 before William Iles went for a golden duck, with Tom Grundy claiming the first of his three wickets.
Grundy then clean bowled skipper Sodhi before opener Mathew Nobes, who had scored a hard-earned 30 from 44 balls, was eventually dismissed by spinner James Urquhart (2-40).
Coventry’s middle order set about recovering the innings, with the fifth-wicket pair of Ankit Kaushik and Raag Kapur managing to get the scoreboard racing along.
The pair put on 46 runs before Brown had Kaushik caught behind for a steady 34 off 50 balls to leave the hosts at 115-5.
Just 21 runs later Grundy removed Kapur for 33 and soon after Stratford skipper Dexter Purser (2-10) sent Manbir Johal back to the pavilion, leaving Coventry at a precarious 143-7.
Another mini recovery followed with Harry Horsley and wicketkeeper Zachary Taylor calming things down again, but the duo could only put on 26 runs between them before the latter was removed by Brown, caught out by Gareth Langman.
George Neal was then caught and bowled by Urquhart before Purser had Horsley caught out to bring Coventry’s innings to a close on 181 all out inside 46 of the allotted 50 overs.
After tea Stratford got off to a blistering start in their reply through openers Purser and Langman.
The first-wicket partnership put on a barnstorming 113-run stand before Purser was removed by Neal for a well-worked 51 off 82 balls.
George Burford joined Langman at the crease, with both batsmen playing a patient game to edge Stratford ever closer to their winning target as the overs went by.
And by the time Langman departed, having been run out for 88 by Nobes, Stratford were sitting pretty on 179-2.
Burford ticked off the remaining runs to finish on 34 not out and bring Stratford’s innings to a close on 182-2 after 48 overs.
Victory for Stratford moved them on to 128 points from seven games, 24 clear of second-placed Walmley going into this Saturday’s home game against sixth-placed Attock (noon start).