Hale Barns Second XI are on the verge of sealing their place in the East/West final after cruising to an eight-wicket victory over Ashton-on-Mersey CC.
Following a solid bowling display, Sanjeev Bhatia and Clive Collins put on an 88-run partnership to guide the team through a comfortable run chase, extending HBCC’s lead to eight points in Division 2 West.
Having entered the day as Barns’ closest challengers, AOM endured a tough start as they lost both openers with just 19 runs on the board, with Jack Wylie (2-23) claiming both scalps.
Second XI debutant Charlie Glazebrook (2-24) introduced himself with an impressive display, bowling an excellent eight-over spell, with his leg-spinners bamboozling two top order batsmen, while Ross Dunleavy (1-20) also claimed a victim of his own to restrict the hosts to 52-5.
Any hopes of an Ashton-on-Mersey revival rested on the shoulders of Henry Murray, who looked very classy for his patient 39 until a lapse in concentration gifted Danny Kelly a simple caught and bowled chance.
Kelly (2-11) soon doubled his tally to continue the home side’s demise at 82-7, although late resistance from Praveen Pattisapu (19) and Nathan D’Cundha (16*) edged them towards three figures.
Callum Schora (2-15) closed out the innings well and was rewarded with two dismissals as Barns limited the total to 113-9 from the allotted overs.
Despite the early departure of Stew Reynolds without scoring, the visitors were never in trouble of losing control of the run chase, with Bhatia and Collins steadily accumulating runs without any risk.
It appeared inevitable that the pair would lead Barns home, but Collins was unfortunately trapped lbw with 19 runs required, falling for 38.
However, Andrew Willis quickly added nine runs to the total, while Bhatia completed a chanceless innings on 47 not out and struck consecutive boundaries to confirm the convincing win with 12 overs to spare.