BASINGSTOKE and North Hants’ unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday, the hosts going by 49 runs to Sarisbury Athletic in a rain-affected match at May’s Bounty.
The result saw the Bountymen slip below Sarisbury to third in the Southern League Division One table, while New Milton remain top after maintaining their 100 per cent record with a narrow victory over Hook and Newnham Basics.
However, all three sides remain very much in the hunt for the title, and things are set up nicely for the second half of the season.
There is little doubt that Sarisbury deserved to win, but two interruptions for rain had a big bearing on proceedings.
Having won the toss and put the visitors in to bat, Basingstoke were very much on top in the early stages. Martyn James conceded just 10 runs from his 10-over spell and the visitors found themselves floundering at 99-4 after 30 overs.
However, at that point, the rain, which had been falling as drizzle for several overs, got heavier, and the umpires took the decision to call a halt to proceedings.
An early tea was taken, meaning that no playing time was lost, but the break had a dramatic effect on the game.
Sarisbury batsmen Dave Banks and Matt Journeaux came out with the intention of getting after the bowling, while Basingstoke’s task was made more difficult by a wet ball.
Having made just 18 together in six overs before the break, Banks and Journeaux (43) smashed a further 79 runs from 11 overs after the interruption.
Banks continued to attack after Journeaux was dismissed, making 77 before holing out to long-off, while the quick-fire scoring was continued by Joe Lovett (36 not out) and Dan Goldstraw (22).
The Bountymen’s lack of an expert death bowler was highlighted in the final 10 overs, which saw Sarisbury add 96 runs to finish on 268-8, but they also missed chances to stem the flow by taking wickets.
Journeaux should have been dismissed with the first ball after the rain break, wicket-keeper Lawrence Benge missing a stumping chance off the bowling of Dave Pistorius, while both Journeaux and Banks were dropped.
Having been asked to bat, Sarisbury’s total was a daunting one on a wet pitch, and Basingstoke struggled to get going in the early stages of their innings, finding themselves 53-4 after 12 overs.
Andrew Niblett and Martyn James stemmed the tide, putting on 40 before rain interrupted play for a second time with the hosts at 95-4 after 22.4 overs.
With just over two overs’ play needed for a result, and Basingstoke well behind the required run-rate, the umpires took the decision to take the players back out before the clouds had cleared.
At that point, the Bountymen were well behind the required run-rate, but 20 runs ahead of where Sarisbury had been at the same point in their innings, having lost one more wicket.
It was very dark when play resumed, with the hosts chasing a reduced target of 226 from 42 overs. Niblett (44) and James (18) started hitting boundaries, with Niblett smashing a straight six into Bounty Road, but when both of them and Matt Thankachan fell in the space of two overs, leaving Basingstoke 125-7, the game was up.
Graham Porter (23) provided some lower-order resistance, but Sarisbury got the three wickets they needed to tie up victory.
CLICK HERE to see a post-match interview with Basingstoke and North Hants captain Chris Froud, while the match scorecard can be seen by CLICKING HERE.