Prerak Mankad shone on a jet-lagged debut for Kenilworth Wardens as they beat Walsall by 36 runs in the Birmingham League Premier Division.
Landing only 18 hours before the game, Wardens’ 2017 overseas player and replacement for the much-loved Sitanshu Kotak, made an immediate impression with an excellent 53-ball 68.
With poor weather causing havoc with pre-game groundwork it was not until 3pm that a 34-overs-a-side game was finally started.
After skipper Basit Zaman won a second consecutive toss it was no surprise that Wardens batted first following the previous week’s successful winning formula.
After the early dismissals of Harry Johnson (5) and Zaman (1) it was left to Nick Seagar to steady the early-innings wobble, taking the score from 28 for two to 95 for three with a highly effective knock of 62 from 81 balls.
Seagar was finally removed by veteran Paul Wicker (1-38) but not before he had launched three characteristic sixes.
It was then Mankad who really took the game to Walsall with a one-hour period of remarkable batting.
Playing for the first time outside of India, Mankad employed a vast array of shots, including reverse sweeps against seam bowlers to leave many spectators gobsmacked by the level of skill on display.
Mankad was eventually adjudged lbw going for yet another reverse sweep after scoring 68 at well over a run a ball.
Mankad was well supported by Scott Stenning (26 not out) as Wardens finished on an above-par 183 from their allotted 34 overs.
With Walsall requiring over five runs an over on a challenging wicket a special innings was required.
And, with skipper James Middleton set on 56 from 71 balls the odds on a Walsall victory were shortening.
It was the introduction of spinner Matthew Hancock that turned the innings, removing Middleton in his first over courtesy of an excellent caught and bowled.
With Mankad tying up the other end, Hancock really turned the screw on the middle order with an excellent spell of four for 18 off five overs.
After an untimely rain break, the Duckworth-Lewis System ensured an interesting finish with Walsall requiring 41 from six overs.
Zaman then struck three times with his unorthodox top-spinners to bowl the visitors out for 133 in the 29th over.
Kenilworth Wardens 2nds were left disappointed by the eventual abandonment at Himley after reducing the 2nd XI Premier Division’s bottom side to 50 for three from 20 overs.
After a heavy shower, one bowler’s run-up caused much debate and with no mopping-up operation in action the game was abandoned at 4.05pm, 25 minutes before the final cut-off time.
Kenilworth Wardens 3rd XI’s disappointing start to their Cotswold Hills Division One campaign continued on Saturday with a three-wicket defeat at Chipping Campden.
Put in to bat by their hosts, the Wardens innings never got going as they struggled to 153 all out in 42.1 overs.
James Lindner (3-19), Dan Moore Jnr (3-47) and Jack Groves (2-33) capitalised on a poor batting display after Sam Groves has set the tone, taking one for 16 off a miserly ten overs.
Only James Jordan, with a resilient 46, and Paul Jacob (22) passed 20 for Wardens on a difficult afternoon for batting.
In response, early wickets for Amun Bal (2-39) and Lewis Baker (1-24) gave Wardens a glimmer of hope but a patient 42 from opener Moore Jr against a tight spell of bowling from Tom Clayton (1-19 off 10) and a lower-order 42 from David Moore eventually saw Chipping Campden home as they reached 154 for seven in the 40th over.
Wardens 4ths saw their winning start to their Cotswold Hills Division Five season frustrated by the weather at Glasshouse Lane, as their game with Leek Wootton 2nds was abandoned without a ball being bowled after the outfield was deemed too wet to ensure the safety of the fielding sides.