Rochdale win clash of centurions
ROCHDALE won through to the semi finals of the JW Lees Bitter Wood Cup when they beat Monton and Weaste by 11 runs in a quiveringly exciting high-scoring second round tie at Redbrook on Saturday.
Set 246 to win, the visitors remained on course for an unlikely victory for all but the last three overs of their chase at which point the pressure of pursuing of such a large total finally told.
The match was dominated by two century makers.
Henry Cooper, who had blasted a ton in only 60 balls in Dale’s T20 win over Friarmere the night before, made it two three figure scores in less than 24 hours.
But he was then more than matched by Monton’s impressive young opening batsman Furqan Shafiq, who led his team’s victory quest with a magnificent 124, falling to a boundary catch by Kelton Aughey on the first ball of the final over with 12 required.
This was a truly entertaining contest which Rochdale must have felt was in the bag at tea time after they had posted a whopping 245 for 7.
Put into bat, presumably on the observation of a rainy weather forecast, Dale got off to their customary Chapman inspired flying start.
The burly Ben smote 15 off the first five balls of Jake Sandham’s second and the games third over, but then edged onto his leg stump on the sixth, and spectators attracted to the mouth watering prospect of watching a long innings from him were thwarted.
His dismissal did, however, permit the early arrival at the crease of Cooper, and the young New Zealander made the most of this extended opportunity.
He played a classic professional’s innings, gluing his team’s batting together, preventing any collapses and making sure that he was still there for the last four overs when Dale plundered 48 runs.
He gave one chance, a tough one to Joe Kershaw on 91. He hit 11 fours and two sixes, but the abiding memory of his innings was his running between the wickets, especially with Andrew Dawson, with whom he put on 79 for the fourth wicket.
After Dawson’s jaunty contribution of 42 came to an end, the scoring rate slowed, but if Monton thought that Dale had become terminally becalmed, it was just a mirage, and the firing of the final salvo took Dale’s total into waters seldom sailed into by teams batting second at Redbrook.
The thought that the second half of the game would be a stroll in the evening sun for Dale seemed to be confirmed with the dismissal, in the second over, of Jake Lenihan, bowled shouldering arms to Michael Harling.
And when the dangerous duo of Sandham and professional Muhammed Wajihuddin also succumbed to leave the visitors foundering on 60 for 3, thoughts turned, prematurely, to the post match party.
But Shafiq was still there, and now, ominously for Dale, beginning to find run scoring easy.
His teenage partner Ali Chugtai provided the ideal foil, especially with his left handedness, and the two put on 97 attractive runs at more than five per over to keep their team in the hunt.
Nor was Shafiq fazed by Chugtai’s departure, caught at the wicket off Harling. He continued apace, now accompanied by Kershaw. When he reached his century, scored at a run a ball, his team needed 62 off the last 10 overs, not a daunting task these days.
But then Oli Makin struck. He trapped Kershaw in front and bowled Tom Othick in quick succession.
Runs came less freely and with three overs to go Monton needed 29. Makin’s over allocation was up and skipper Dale Highton, eschewing Cooper’s reasonable claims for a return to the attack, bravely brought himself back on.
Danny Collins leathered his first ball, a long hop over mid wicket for six, but two balls later tried to swing him to the same spot only to locate Kelton Aughey who took a neat low catch.
And 21 off the last two became 12 off the last, bowled by Harling.
Shafiq hit the first ball hard and high, but not quite long enough and Aughey, on the edge, took another catch. Shafiq’s marvellous effort was over and with him went his team’s hopes.
Kumar was bowled next ball; then a dot, and with 12 still needed off three balls, Tom Coe was run out attempting a single to the wicketkeeper.
Time for that party.