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Whitchurch must beat the odds to clinch promotion

Whitchurch kept alive their hopes of promotion to the Birmingham League despite a 71-run defeat to Old Hill.

Tough for Whitchurch
Tough for Whitchurch

There is a potentially nail-biting conclusion to the County League play-offs, with all four teams still in with a shout of promotion heading into this weekend’s final round of matches.

Tamworth lead the way with a perfect record of two wins from two, having followed Saturday’s four-wicket win at Whitchurch by beating Coventry & North Warwickshire by 81 runs, 24 hours later. But the South Staffs League champions still require six points from their final match, at home to Old Hill, to guarantee a top-two finish.

Warwickshire League champs Coventry are second and will go up if they win at Whitchurch, though the Shropshire club are not completely out of the picture despite losing both of their first two matches and a big win, coupled with a heavy defeat for Old Hill, could yet see them finish second.

They will need to improve with both bat and ball if they are to achieve it, having fallen well short of Old Hill’s total of 240-9.

The hosts were propelled by some strong contributions at the top of the order, Ravi Nagra top scoring with a run-a-ball 53 and Omar Masood making 43 before Dylan Keeling injected some late impetus with an unbeaten 42 from 36 balls.

Whitchurch made a decent start to the reply and were ahead on DLS with 20 overs gone. But other than Birmingham Phoenix ace Eve Jones, who made 24 before being out to a stunning catch from Bilal Hassan, no-one else could stay with opener Michael Robinson.

The latter was out, cruelly, just two runs short of his century and by then the visitors’ challenge had faded in the face of a strong home team bowling effort, with six different bowlers taking wickets.

Pressure had been on Old Hill after Saturday’s disappointing 65-run defeat at Coventry. Opener William Iles top scored for the hosts with a patient 83, with veteran skipper Vikram Sodhi also scoring 49 as they reached 250-7 from their 50 overs. Sam Wright was the pick of the visiting bowlers, taking 4-62.

Old Hill opener Waqas Ahmed hit a half century in the reply but wickets fell too regularly around him and at 116-6, the visitors faced a tall order. Jahanzib Khan (49) and Keeling (20) briefly restored some hope with a 54-run partnership for the seventh wicket but when both departed in quick succession, the game was up.

At Whitchurch, the home side’s 182-8 was not enough against Tamworth, who reached the target with eight overs to spare.

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