Malik Holds Nerve to Finish the Perfect Weekend

Usama Malik produced a superb final over under pressure to send holders Norden through to the last 8 of the LCFKO Cup on Sunday evening and complete a fantastic weekend for the club, which also saw them return to the top of the Lancashire League division 1 table. Visitors Denton St. Lawrence looked to have timed their run chase perfectly when Ben Tighe took 14 runs from the first 5 balls of Greg Butterworth’s penultimate over to the short legside boundary but when Tighe hit a low full toss straight to Harvey Fitton at long-on off the final ball of that over it gave Norden a chance. A run-a-ball was required from the final 6 deliveries but Denton were down to their final wicket. 3 singles to start were followed by 2 dots as Malik mixed his pace and the final ball produced a swing and a miss, half an appeal for caught behind and a huge cheer from the crowd.

Norden’s innings started badly when Fitton was bowled by Scott Kirwin but Josh Tolley and Butterworth both looked in good touch and moved the score along nicely until Tolley was caught behind. Ash Zaidi joined Butterworth and at 100 for 2 at the half-way stage, Norden looked set for a total well in excess of 200. However, both set batsmen fell either side of drinks and it was left to the middle-order to get the home side to a competitive score. Hashum Malik, Lee Crabtree and Dom Humphreys all made it into the 20’s but Tighe removed all 3 on his way to 5 for 50 from his 9 overs and the final total of 196 for 9 felt a little below-par on a good pitch. Malik got Norden off to the perfect start by having skipper Adam Hawley caught by Crabtree off the first ball of the reply and things were looking good for the home side when they got the 2 big wickets of Kirwin and professional Neil Hornbuckle, bowled by a beauty from Zaidi, before the score had reached 50. Opener Matt Sonczak holed out to deep midwicket and Butterworth bowled Dan Moriarty round his legs to leave Denton struggling on 78 for 5 but Norden, with only 4 established and fit 1st team bowlers in the side, had to find some overs from somewhere and Liam Parkinson was able to take advantage, hitting 27 off 2 overs from Dean Lord. Skipper Hashum Malik had no choice but to return to his main bowlers and Parkinson moved to an excellent half-century, but Sami Waheed returned to bowl a superb spell and picked up 2 wickets, including Parkinson, to finish with 3 for 25. The game looked over at 146 for 8 but then a game of cat and mouse ensued with Tighe and Ethan Illingworth knowing that if they took the game deep they would have 3 overs to face from the 5th/6th bowling option. They did just that but Malik showed skill and nerve to bowl those 3 overs for just 14 runs and give the home side the victory. Norden will travel to Ormskirk in the quarter-final.  
Sunday Scorecard
Sunday Highlights

Saturday saw then league leaders and rivals Walsden make the trip to Stag Park. The visitors won a good toss and batted first but Norden’s bowlers chipped away at Walsden’s powerful batting line-up, taking wickets at good times and keeping the run-rate under control. Professional Umesh Karunaratne was the mainstay of the innings, making 66, but the hosts were understandably aggrieved that he wasn’t given run-out on 27 after good work at backward point from Dom Humphreys. Matt Dawson provided good support but it was only when Joe Gale joined Karunaratne that things threatened to get out of hand for the Stags. Gale is a powerful striker of the ball and he hit 2 sixes and 3 fours in a quick-fire 37 before mis-timing a drive off Sami Waheed and finding Pimm in the deep. Waheed was rewarded with 4 wickets after sticking to his task admirably after a difficult start and his bowling at the death, alongside the ever-reliable Zaidi and Butterworth, meant that the target to chase remained well within reach at 223. Tolley and Fitton got off to a flyer and when Fitton was bowled by Karunaratne there were already 76 on the board in under 10 overs. Butterworth was the victim of a very poor L.B.W. decision and had Martin Harlow been able to cling on to a catch at deep-midwicket off Zaidi when he was on just 4, things could have looked a little dicey but Tolley was still going well at the other end and his partnership of 93 with Zaidi made for a pretty comfortable chase. Tolley finally went for a splendid 79 and Zaidi remained unbeaten on 88 as the Stags cruised home with 6 wickets and 3 and a half overs remaining. Credit should go to the umpires for remaining strong in the face of some extremely vociferous appeals and the richly deserved win means Norden hold a 4-point lead at the top of the table.
Saturday Scorecard
Saturday Highlights

There was also a t20 win on Friday night as Zaidi and Fitton guided Norden home with an over to spare chasing Todmorden’s 141 all out. Butterworth took 4 for 12 and Waheed 3 for 22 whilst visiting professional Murasingh hit 63 for Tod but Tolley and Hashum Malik put on a rapid 66 for the opening wicket allowing Zaidi to play within himself and put the Stags into the qualifying places in the Manchester Craft division with 2 games to go. Friday Scorecard
Friday Highlights

The 2nds had a nail-biting win at Scott Street on Saturday after a late Walsden collapse meant they fell 22 runs short of their target of 260. Danny Devine, Jack Harrison and Zeshan Anwar made good contributions up top without going on to make a big score but the man in form, Dean Lord, struck an unbeaten run-a-ball 67 to follow up from his century the week before and James O’Neill added 41 to leave Norden big favourites at the break. When Oli Holt got the big wicket of Jon Lord with 123 still required, it looked good for Phil Docker’s men but a partnership of 86 between Chris Lord and big-hitting Junaid Khan took Walsden to within touching distance. Mo Waheed castled Khan to start the collapse and he and Melbourne Austin took the final 6 wickets between them for just 14 runs to spark wild celebrations in the Norden ranks.
2nds Scorecard