Rochdale win clash of cen­tu­ri­ons

Middleton Guardian - - LEISURE - ALIS­TAIR BOLINGBROKE

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.

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