LIGHTNING struck for a third consecutive Saturday as another brilliant Martin Donald innings steered Kenilworth Wardens to a fine 61-run Birmingham League Premier Division win at Dorridge.
The latest part of the trilogy was also emphatically the best, as Donald arrived at the crease with his team in disarray at 45-4 after losing a crucial toss on a damp pitch.
He proceeded to make light of the conditions though and quickly demolished a useful home attack, striking eight fours and five sixes in a spectacular 79-ball 104.
This saw Wardens to an above-par 238, after which their spinners slowly but surely strangled the life from Dorridge’s response, which closed at 177.
This result reinforced the double which Wardens claimed over their hosts during both clubs’ 2013 promotion campaigns. More importantly, however, it allowed the visitors to open their Premier League account and in the process delivered a huge confidence boost.
Many good judges consider Dorridge’s long-standing Australian professional David Ball to be a worthy contender to Sitanshu Kotak’s status as the best overseas player seen during the BDPCL’s 15 seasons.
The pair came head-to-head much earlier than Wardens had hoped, after Ball (3-30) and his new-ball partner, Warwickshire’s Aaron Thomason, grabbed four early wickets in perfect seam bowling conditions.
Kotak’s 19th season at Kenilworth began with a watchful 78-ball 36, during which he maintained a vital watching brief to his captain’s pyrotechnics.
The fifth wicket duo added 95, after which Udit Talati joined Donald to contribute a useful 21 to their 67-run seventh wicket partnership. Iftikhar Ahmed (3-57) eventually claimed Donald’s scalp, prior to mopping up the tail, as Wardens closed their 50 overs on 238.
Following Alistair Wilkinson’s early breakthrough, Dorridge’s second wicket pair Nathan Myers and Thomason added 58, after which Ball (22) joined the Bears’ prospect to add a further 49.
Donald’s four-pronged spin attack was quickly into action and once again it was Kotak who made crucial inroads. Firstly he won his private duel with Ball, before Talati’s catch ended Thomason’s threatening contribution.
The young all-rounder had followed his midweek County 2nd XI hundred with a powerful 73-ball 61, including five boundaries and two maximums.
Thereafter, only Mavarick Perry’s defiant 39 offered much by way of resistance to off-spinner Anthony Wilkinson (3-39) and Kotak (4-29) and, when the Indian ace dismissed the hosts’ top gun, Wardens completed victory in the 46th over.