CRICKET: LEAMINGTON gained nine points from a stalemate fixture against Smethwick at Arlington Avenue on Saturday, boosting their chances of avoiding relegation.
Despite missing three front-line bowlers, Leamington decided to bowl first – knowing a poor performance could increase the club’s chances of dropping to the third tier of the Birmingham Cricket League.
Smethwick started brightly by adding 50 for the first wicket, primarily through wicket keeper Amrinder Brar.
Spa plugged away though and denied Smethwick the opportunity to build a match-winning total.
When Brar was eventually bowled for 84, Smethwick looked to Gurinder Singh (51) and Arif Mahmood (42) for further support as the visitors closed their innings at 265/9.
Leamington felt disappointed to concede a huge 38 extras though – a figure which ultimately changed the outcome of the match.
In reply, Leamington made a faltering start as the Black Country side took two quick wickets.
In-form batsmen Alex Mellor and Lee Hopkins were brought to the crease and batted well.
When Mellor was dismissed for 37, Australia Hamish Kingston came to the crease.
Kingston and Hopkins went on to hit an outstanding 117 partnership before Hopkins was stumped out for the same figure.
Although the required run rate had hit double figures, Nathan Hooker and Kingston continued to take the ball to Smethwick.
However the experienced Mo Sheikh took control of the game for Smethwick by pulling off a smart return catch to send Kingston (56) packing before Hooker (28) was stumped.
Leamington could not find the boundary in the dying overs and closed on 254/8.
The Spa side remain third from bottom of the table and face next to bottom Wellington on Saturday.