BASINGSTOKE and North Hants sit second in the Southern League Division One table after a fine bowling display saw them complete a 32-run victory over Bournemouth.
The Bountymen’s impressive start to life after promotion continued on Saturday as they successfully defended 110 to beat their hosts.
They have won all three of the games they have managed to play so far and are one of only two teams to boast a 100 per cent record. Only New Milton sit above them on points average, having played a game less.
Basingstoke’s perfect record was in serious doubt at the halfway stage on Saturday, the visitors having been dismissed for 110 on a tricky pitch.
Bournemouth looked on course for a comfortable victory as their opening partnership put on 22, but a flurry of wickets for Martyn James (3-15) and Ryan Connor (3-24) had the home side reeling at 41-6 after 20 overs.
Captain Martin Miller and Gurpreet Singh gave Bournemouth hope with a partnership of 26 for the sixth wicket, but they were unable to see the job through and the hosts were eventually dismissed for 78.
With captain Chris Froud unavailable, Dan Coombs led Basingstoke, with Patrick Joseph and Richard Vinn coming in for the skipper and Graham Porter.
The drama began before the game got underway, when the pitch due to be used was deemed unplayable due to problems with the bowler’s run-up at one end.
Play was switched to an alternative track, but it was not a new one, having been used for a youth match the night before. It was green and worn, so there was little surprise when Basingstoke were put in to bat after Bournemouth won the toss.
The Bountymen found the pitch slow and difficult to score on. Vinn was bowled by Mike Kitson in the third over, with fellow opener Andy Fulton joining him back in the pavilion after a mix-up with Coombs saw him run out.
Coombs put on 23 with Craig Williamson before being involved in a second run out, hesitating when going back for two, while the visitors were in big trouble at 38-4 when Andrew Niblett was trapped leg before wicket soon after.
Williamson struggled to get going during his innings of 23, but a partnership of 29 between him and Joseph (18), turned out to be vital.
After that, wickets fell at fairly regular intervals, with Matt Thankachan scoring an important 16 not out to get Basingstoke past the 100 mark.
Despite only having 110 to defend, the Bountymen appeared confident at the tea break, and after a bit of a slow start with the ball, James and Connor took centre stage.
James’ 10 overs went for just 15 runs, with the bowler claiming six maidens, while Connor also kept things pretty tight to build pressure on the batsmen.
Ben Bridgen was the first to succumb, holing out to Fulton at midwicket, while the hosts then lost a further five wickets for the addition of just 17 runs, with Connor taking wickets with successive balls in his final over.
Singh denied him a hat-trick and gave his side hope with a good 20, which included several boundaries. However, when he and captain Miller, who bizarrely hit his own stumps while attempting to cut David Pistorius, were both dismissed with the score on 65, things looked dire for Bournemouth.
Sure enough, Pistorius, who got plenty of turn out of the pitch, soon got his second wicket, while some hesitancy saw last man Matt Miller run out to complete a dramatic victory for the visitors.
Click here to see a post-match video interview with Basingstoke skipper for the day, Dan Coombs