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Basingstoke and North Hants so close to title triumph
Buy this photo » Spinner Matt Thankachan is missing this week.
WITH promotion clinched, Basingstoke and North Hants players have just one thing on their minds now and that is to win the Southern League Division Two title.
The Bountymen have just two games left and need 26 points to secure top spot, so a maximum 22-point victory at OTs and Romsey this Saturday would leave them virtually assured of the silverware.
Last weekend, Basingstoke were just denied victory over title rivals Hursley Park by the rain as they needed just six runs for victory from 13 overs.
That kept the top two locked together and this weekend Hursley are at Totton and Eling II.
The Bountymen will have a few players missing for their final away game of the season at Romsey, as opener Andy Fulton, who top-scored against Hursley, is unavailable, along with leading wicket taker Matt Thankachan and seam bowler Graham Porter.
So reinforcement from the second XI will come in they face a side in good form at the moment, having won both their completed games in August over Langley Manor and Sparsholt respectively.
When these sides met earlier in the season at May’s Bounty, Basingstoke won by 147 runs as Dan Coombs, Dean Nurse and Craig Williamson all did well with the bat, racking up 231.
The visitors were then bowled out for 84 as Martyn James and Thankachan both took three wickets each.
Basingstoke skipper Coombs is taking nothing for granted and said: “We have a few missing this week and they have been doing well in recent weeks so it is not going to be easy.
“We want to win the title. It is in our own hands at the moment and we want to keep it that way.”
Basingstoke’s second XI suffered a wasted trip to Division Three bottom side Bournemouth II last week and on Saturday entertain South Wilts II knowing that eight points will make sure they are not sucked into a final day relegation fight.
When they played them earlier in the season they lost by 123 runs, being bowled out for 129 as they tried to chase down 252-5.
Evergreen second XI all-rounder Keith Harsham collected the Southern Electric Cricketer of the Month award for July after celebrating two separate five-wicket hauls for the Bountymen.
Harsham took 5-52 on the opening weekend of July against Portsmouth and Southsea and two weeks later spearheaded an eight-wicket victory over Trojans with 5-17.
Harsham has an important date on Sunday, when he turns out for Hampshire Seniors in the ECB 50-plus County Cup semi-final against Essex at Totton and Eling.
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