Junaid Iqbal Steers HBCC Thirds To Victory

Hale Barns Third XI produced a terrific performance to see off the challenge of Didsbury CC at Brooks Drive as Junaid Iqbal starred with 78 not out in a seven-wicket win.

Manny Grewal provided crucial support with 35, while Jack WylieHamza Ali and Thomas Reed set up the victory with the ball, claiming three wickets apiece.

Despite Nouman Rehman striking a huge six off the third ball of the match to give Didsbury a flying start, Suhail Anjum made an early breakthrough to remove other opener Sunil Singh for a duck.

Rehman looked in excellent touch and was particularly strong through the leg-side, but having reached a rapid 20, Wylie delivered an in-swinging yorker that clipped his off stump.

And from 34-1, Wylie’s double-wicket maiden in the seventh over left Didsbury in a spot of bother on 34-3 and they were soon reduced to 42-4 as the vice-captain (3-23) claimed a third victim, with Harris Umair succumbing to a sharp catch behind the stumps from Grewal.

Number three batsman Umar Butt was given a lifeline after being dropped in the slips and managed to see off the opening bowlers before going on the attack to provide some respite for the visitors, while he received able support from youngster Finn Lowe.

The pair put on a half-century partnership before Lowe was dismissed for 17 by a terrific delivery from Ali (3-30), who then added two more to his tally during an excellent spell, although Butt proved elusive as he passed fifty.

However, Under-15s player Reed was introduced into the attack and celebrated his senior debut with his maiden wicket by sending Butt back to the pavilion thanks to an impressive catch from Qasir Nazir at deep mid-wicket.

And Reed (3-20) was not finished there as Nazir took another catch before the teenager wrapped up the innings as Barns bowled out the away side for 147 from 34.5 overs.

The hosts’ response got off to a disastrous start as captain Farhan Rabbani was bowled second ball without scoring and Ahmed Choudhry soon followed for just 2, with both batsmen falling to Jamie Taylor (2-37) to leave Barns reeling on 4-2 inside three overs.

But Grewal and Iqbal rebuilt the innings superbly, surviving the early onslaught before accelerating the scoring, with the latter regularly finding the boundary.

The duo reached a century partnership in the 23rd over after Iqbal had already reached his fifty, while Grewal continued to show great patience and concentration.

Having added 138 as a pairing and with victory well in their sights, Grewal’s lengthy stay at the crease finally came to an end when he was trapped lbw for a vital 35 off 93 deliveries with just six runs required.

And Nazir (10 not out) wasted no time in seeing Barns over the line, blocking his first ball before striking a four down the ground, followed by a massive six that went out of the ground to seal the win in style, with Iqbal finishing unbeaten at the other end on a magnificent 78 from 72 balls.

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