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Basingstoke and North Hants seal promotion
BASINGSTOKE and North Hants came within touching distance of completing a double over their Southern League Division Two title rivals Hursley Park, before rain wiped out their chances.
The Bountymen needed just six more runs to secure the victory, which would have almost certainly clinched them the league crown as well.
However, there was some silver lining for the team as, with all the games abandoned for the first time this year across the Southern League, Basingstoke achieved their first objective of the campaign which was promotion.
This means next season in Division One they will lock horns with local rivals Hook and Newnham Basics and Hartley Wintney.
A reflective Basingstoke captain Dan Coombs said: “This is not the way we wanted to get promoted, but we have shown today we wanted to get a result and we’re not just going to stick on our average.
“Getting that close was disappointing, but they did forecast the rain. It was a shame we were not able to get back out and finish the job.”
Having put visiting Hursley into bat, the Basingstoke bowlers were always on top against one of the top batting sides.
Earlier in the season Hursley were bowled out for 145, and this time they improved on it, but only a little, making 156.
With the loss of an hour during the Hursley innings, Basingstoke were set a maximum target of 144 from 42 overs or a minimum score of 81 off 25 overs if the game was abandoned.
The Bountymen were well on course to achieve their targets thanks to Andy Fulton’s 42 from 39 balls as they reached 75-2 off just 12.2 overs before the rain set in for the evening.
Looking back on the game, Coombs said: “The wicket was a bit green so I decided it was best to chase and the bowlers once again have done their job, especially MJ (Martyn James) and Ryan (Connor). They were really getting the ball to move around.
“We then tried to get the runs as quickly as we could, but unfortunately the rain got here just too early. I am satisfied we have shown we are strong side and worthy of being top-of-the-table.”
Both title rivals now have two games left in the campaign, with the Bountymen needing just one more win to make sure of the crown as long as they do not have a disaster in the other game.
First up for them is a trip to mid table OTs and Romsey on Saturday, before a home game against Paultons on August 31.
The Bountymen beat both the sides in the opening round of matches and are currently on an unbeaten run of 14 games and are still yet to be beat at home.
Meanwhile, second placed Hursley are also on their travels this weekend going to relegation threatened Totton and Eling IIs, before they entertain OTs and Romsey, who beat them at the end of June.
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