Hale Barns First XI were crowned Cheshire County Cricket League Division 2 Champions at Brooks Drive after overcoming Haslington CC in a dramatic Super Over.
Ben Hicks, Khurram Hussain, Sam Smith were the significant contributors on the day as the hosts, who fielded eight homegrown players, won the first T20 match and then successfully chased 12 to win in the nail-biting six-ball shootout.
T20 Game One
Having won the toss and chosen to field, HBCC gained the initiative early on thanks to extremely economical bowling from Hicks, before Smith (2-42) broke the deadlock by removing openers Jack Moran (18) and Callum Newman-Scott (5), reducing the visitors to 35-2.
The middle overs proved less fruitful as Matthew Kennerley-Ryan and Ben Istead built a promising partnership, putting on 76 together to nudge Haslington into the driving seat.
However, the 13th over proved to be a game-changer as Hicks (3-8) returned to the attack with devastating effect, striking three times, including Kennerley-Ryan for 49.
Having collapsed from 111-2 to 111-5, the away side rallied in the latter stages, with Istead smashing an unbeaten 67 off 38 deliveries, while Joseph Goodier added 11 not out as they recovered to post 163-5.
An instant breakthrough from Jack Taylor (2-26) put Barns on the back foot, although Smith and Hussain kept their composure to lead a responsible run chase, comfortably reaching a century partnership.
The duo stepped on the gas in the second half of the innings, hitting 11 maximums between them as the score moved on to 137 before Smith finally fell for an excellent 74 off 52 balls.
Requiring 27 from the last three overs, Hussain continued to dominate the bowlers and was ably supported by Hicks (8*), helping Barns cruise to an eight-wicket victory, with the former finishing things off to end on a magnificent 75 not out.
T20 Game Two
Haslington responded well to their defeat, with first-game heroes Smith and Hussain both dismissed before the score reached double figures, while things got progressively worse for the home team as Imran Khan (4-13) claimed four victims.
At 29-5, Joe Cooper and Hicks offered stern resistance and steered the total to 63-5 with eight overs remaining, but two wickets in an over from Istead (2-24), including Cooper for a patient 24, left Barns reeling.
Another strong show of resilience helped HBCC move beyond the hundred mark, with Hicks and James Fullerton-Batten sharing a crucial partnership of 51. The latter was eventually run out in the final over for 24, but Hicks remained undefeated on 42 as the hosts posted 116-8.
In reply, Moran got Haslington off to a flying start, while Newman-Scott made a run-a-ball 13 before being sent back by Younas Saeed (1-16). Two wickets in quick succession for Smith (2-17), as well as a run out, gave Barns hope of pulling off another win with the visitors on 67-4.
However, Moran and Istead held things together to calmly steer Haslington towards the target. With just 22 runs required, Christian Dodson produced a vital breakthrough, dismissing Moran for 43, while a double strike from Hicks (2-21) set up an exciting finale.
Istead saw Haslington home, though, finishing on 18 not out to seal a three-wicket victory and taking the League final to a dramatic super over.
With tremendous figures of 5-29 from his eight overs on the day, Hicks stepped up to bowl the super over for HBCC and he continued his excellent form with an incredibly tight first five deliveries, which went for just five runs.
However, there was still time for more drama as the quick left-armer was hit for a spectacular six over deep cover with the final delivery to set Barns a target of 12 runs to claim the silverware.
The in-form pair of Hussain and Smith took to the crease for the run chase, with the former settling any nerves with a terrific four off the first ball. Istead’s radar was not quite tuned in as he served up a wide full toss a couple of deliveries later, which Smith dispatched to the cover boundary to put Barns on the brink.
And the title was decided in bizarre fashion as the batting duo were able to scamper two byes to reach the required total, cueing wild celebrations from the home team and the large set of supporters at Brooks Drive.