Sandiacre Town got back to winning ways with a 33-run win over promoted side Rolls-Royce, but what seemed like it might have been a rout turned into a much more nervy affair thanks to an innings of real quality from Naeem Akhtar.
In pursuit of Sandiacre’s 217 all out, Ryan McFadyean reduced Rolls-Royce to 10-3, bowling Sahd Shafiq and Mohammed Waseem and trapping Bilal Ejaz in front.
Not to be outdone Dan Wheeldon then had Haq Nawaz caught at point by Matt Gouldstone and young Rahib Ali first ball to leave Rolls Royce 22-5.
From here, it seemed to be a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ Sandiacre would win.
Raja Sohail Haider decided the best form of defence was attack, hitting Wheeldon’s hat-trick ball down the ground for four and striking three more boundaries in his 16-ball innings before Wheeldon got his revenge, bowling Haider for 18 with the score 53-6.
This brought Akhtar to the crease, at a rather surprising position of number eight in the order.
Despite one or two close looking shouts for LBW, Akhtar began to show why he has been one of the most dangerous middle-order batsman in Premier League history.
Along with the assured looking Srikanth Venkatappa, Rolls-Royce not only began to inch their way back into the game but started to look like they could go on and win it themselves.
Going along at five an over, thanks to some destructive hitting from Akhtar, the run rate was never an issue, and as Rolls-Royce passed 150 Sandiacre needed a breakthrough.
Rob Attwood rotated his bowlers, looking for an answer and it came from James Chapman.
Having earlier bowled two fruitless overs, Chapman returned and had Venkatappa licking his lips with a rank long-hop, only to hit it straight to McFadyean at deep square-leg.
That was 176-7 but all it needed was a calm head from Akhtar and someone to stay with him.
Unfortunately for Rolls-Royce, neither happened. Sandiacre were able to bring back the big guns with Wheeldon and McFadyean continuing their good early form by mopping up the tail.
Shahzada Khan was the LBW to McFadyean for 1, who then claimed the prize scalp of Akhtar.
Having reached 74 from 84 balls, Akhtar perhaps realised that it was down to him and tried to launch McFadyean out of the ground, only to miss and become McFadyeans fifth victim for just 28 runs.
Wheeldon then wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Nasir Khalid to finish with 4-51, as Rolls Royce slipped to 184 all out.
Earlier, Sandiacre had seemed on course for 250-plus after John Trueman and James Chapman put on 75 for the first wicket.
However, they were perhaps fortunate to make it past 200.
Once Akhtar made the breakthrough, trapping Trueman LBW for 28, he also picked up the wicket of Chesney Hughes to finish with typically economic figures of 2-29 from 15 overs.
Raja Sohail Haider came into the attack and found plenty of spin as he picked up the wickets of Chapman (43), Qureshi (0), Davind Jordison (4) and Wheeldon (10).
Rob Attwood played quite nicely, sweeping the spin of Nasir Khalid well.
But when Attwood was bowled for 33 and McFadyean found long-on, both falling to Khalid, at 191-9 Rolls-Royce should have wrapped the innings up.
Instead, Danny Green and Andrew Marlow, who rarely find themselves at the crease, managed to put on 26 for the last wicket until Green was out, giving Khalid his third wicket from the final delivery.
Sunday provided a thrilling game in the National Cup Regional Final against West Indian Cavaliers.
An exquisite innings of 134 from former Notts and England batsman Usman Afzaal helped Cavaliers set a daunting 251 all out, five deliveries short of their 45-over allocation.
James Chapman and John Trueman put on 100 for the first wicket before Chapman was stumped off Afzaal for 45.
Ollie Swann made 33 before falling LBW to Afazal but at 190-2 Sandiacre should have cantered to victory.
Former Pakistan International Saqlain Mushtaq entered the fray and turned the game in the Cavaliers favour.
He picked up the wicket of John Trueman for 82 and kept it tight as the run rate crept up.
When John Jordison became Afzaal’s third wicket for 20, he was followed by a stream of single figure scores, as Afzaal and Mushtaq finished with four wickets apiece.
After 89 overs the game hinged on one final over, with one wicket in hand and six required, thanks to Dave Jordison’s 18 from 14 balls.
The over began with a wide, followed by a no-ball which Neil Smith hit for a single to bring Jordison on strike.
He went back to cut a slightly shorter ball from Orson Nurse, only to edge behind and see the Cavaliers celebrate winning a remarkable match.
For a full report on the seconds’ victory at Shipley Hall on Saturday, turn to page 33.
The Third XI got back to winning ways with back-to-back victories of a double header weekend.
They started on Saturday, beating Eckington by two wickets in a tight game.
George Domleo was the star, hitting an unbeaten 58 to guide his side to victory with just five balls to spare.
Earlier Anthony Taylor had helped set up the win with 5-42, while Domleo capped a good all-round performance with 3-30 as Eckington were all out for 158, Julian Carlile (54*) and Andy Vaughan (41) doing their best to get Eckington a competitive total.
On Sunday, they played host to Staveley 2nds and ran out comfortable winners by 71 runs. Batting first Sandiacre racked up 216-4, with Paul Chambers hitting an unbeaten 94. Gareth Davis made a swift 55 and John Murfin 44. In reply, ten-man Staveley could only manage 145 all out as Sandiacre kept the pressure up on Langley Mill at the top of the table.