What a valiant effort Bradninch made in their bid to bag more Vitality Club T20 Cup glory for, having been bowled out for 70 by Cornish champions Penzance, they made the Duchy side work every inch of the way and they only claimed victory with a single off the fourth ball of the 17th over with their final pair at the wicket.
After losing the toss and being invited to bat first by his opposite number, Bradninch skipper Gary Chappell opened the innings with Rory Thomas.
Giles Lawrence took the new ball for the Cornish side and things could not have got off to a worse start for Ninch as first Thomas and then number three Thom Bunker were sent back inside the first six balls!
Rory Thomas faced the first ball – a dot ball – but was then trapped leg before wicket, Bunker scored two off the first delivery he faced but then, after two dot balls, he lost his stumps and, at the end of the first over, Bradninch were 2-2!
Mitch Pugh joined the skipper and, at the end of the third over, the score was 12-2 with Chappell on seven from six balls and Pugh on three from six. However, the pair were parted to the 20th ball of the innings with Pugh trapped leg before to first change Tom Dinnis, and was out for a seven-ball three to leave Ninch on 13-3 after 3.2 overs.
Dan Hardy was next man in and he played out the remainder of the fourth over at the end of which Bradninch were 13-3.
At the end of the fifth over it was 17-3. Dan Hardy played a brilliant cover drive in the sixth over, but a delivery later he was trapped leg before by the lively Dinnis, out for a nine ball six, and, at the end of the sixth over, with Ross Acton having faced the final delivery following the Hardy dismissal, Ninch were 23-4.
Chappell rifled the ball to the boundary in the next over but then he too fell, clean bowled by Giles Lawrence for an 18-ball 17 to leave the score on 29-5 after seven overs.
Three runs came from the eight over, at the end of which the score was 32-5.
Ross Acton became the sixth wicket, a fourth leg before decision of the innings, in his case sent back for a four-ball two to leave Bradninch 32-6 one ball into the ninth over.
Josh Farley took over and he played out the ninth over with five successive dot balls. Eliot Acton then played a ‘trademark’ reverse sweep for two, and, at the halfway mark of the innings, Ninch were 40-6 with the not out batsmen being Eliot Acton 9(10) and Josh Farley 0(6)Farley.
Acton fell to a catch, dismissed by the first delivery of the 11th over – out for an 11-ball nine and Craig Penberthy came out to join Josh Farley with Ninch 40-7.
Penberthy saw off four dot balls before getting off the mark off the final ball of the 11th over to leave Bradninch 41-7 with nine overs to go.
Josh Farley became a third wicket for Ali Usman, the fifth Ninch batsman to be out leg before wicket, in Farley’s case for an eight ball one to leave the team score on 47-8 with one ball of the 13th over remaining.
Will Squire joined Penberthy and, after 14 overs, the score was 48-8 with the not out batsmen Penberthy 7 (16) and Squire 0 (5).
When spinner Usman had finished his shift of four overs he had the eye-catching figures of three for three!
He sent down the 15th over with just a single coming from it and, with five overs to be bowled, Ninch stood on 49-8.
Craig Penberthy became the ninth wicket to be lost, caught off the 21st ball he received – out for nine.
That brought last man Aryan Raigangar to the wicket to join Squire with the final pair coming together with Ninch on 51-9 after 15 overs and four balls. Indeed it was the final pair who were able to add the biggest partnership of the day for Ninch. Indeed, at the start of the 19th over, the pair had taken the score from 51-9 to 66-9.
The penultimate over yielded two singles and, as the final over got underway, Bradninch were 68-9 with Squire on 10 (24) and Raigangar 2 (6).
It was with two balls left that the Ninch batting effort ended with Raigangar stumped and out for an eight ball three leaving Squire as the not out batsman on 11 from 16 deliveries with the Bradninch total being 70 from 19.4 overs.
In terms of those Penzance bowing figures it was the Ali Usman return of 3-3 from four that took the honours while opening bowler ended with 3-19 from four and fellow opener also sent down four overs and, while wicket less, only went for 16 runs.
Tom Dinnis returned figures of 2-14 from four, Christian Purchase had 2-13 from two overs and four balls and the other bowler used was Jonathan Ludlum (0-2 from one).
Ross Acton had the new ball and he pounded in for the opening delivery, the ball rapped the pads, the appeal was made and the umpire’s finger went up. Yes, one ball in and Penzance 0-1 – could that 70 be a match winning total? Never say never……..
At the end of the first over Penzance were 5-1 with the runs coming from wides.
Skipper Gary Chappell delivered the second over and after three successive dot balls, wicket keeper Thom Bunker affected a slick stumping and, at the end of the second over, the reply stood at 6-2!
The third over, sent down by Acton, went for just four and the fourth over, delivered by the skipper, saw five runs taken.
A dozen – including a six and a four – came off the fifth sent down by Acton before Chappell delivered the sixth and claimed the third wicket, this one courtesy of the stumps being knocked over and, in the same over, it got even better with Penzance reduced to 27-4 after six overs, with ‘Chaps’ sending down a double wicket maiden!
Can they – could they ……….
The seventh over, sent down by Acton, yielded just five runs and, after seven overs, Penzance were 32-4 – at the same stage Ninch had been 29-5.
With Chappell and Acton bowled out – Chaps returning the splendid figures of 3-11 from his four while the Acton return was 1-26 from four. Josh Farley was introduced to the attack to send down the ninth over and that went for nine runs and so, at the end of nine overs, Penzance stood on 46-4, needing 25 runs for victory with six wickets to play with.
Mitch Pugh was tasked with the 10th over and he hit the stumps to leave Penzance now with half their side back in the pavilion and still 25 runs from the winning line – game on!
Aryan Raigangar was introduced to the attack to send down the 11th over at the start of which Penzance stood on 48-5 (at halfway Ninch were 40-6). The 11th over only went for one run and so, at the start of the 12th – to be bowled by Mitch Pugh, Penzance were 53-5, needing 18 runs from the final nine overs with five wickets in hand.
Pugh had ball in hand for the 12th over and wickets with successive deliveries left Penzance 53-7, still needing 18 runs to win and now, with just three more wickets to play with – wow!
That 12th over was a double wicket maiden! Over 13 was bowled by Raigangar and the Penzance batters managed to squeeze a four to take their total to 58-7. Now needing 13 to win with plenty of overs to play with, but just three wickets!
Over to Mitch Pugh for over number 14! Number nine bat for Penzance, Rhys Brownfield bagged himself – and his team – a crucial boundary and, with six runs coming from the over, it left Penzance on 64 for 7 after 14 overs, needing seven to win.
Over 15 was delivered by Raigangar and a two off the third ball edged the Cornish side closer to the winning line.
It all left Penzance needing five to win off the final five overs.
Over 16 was sent down by Mitch Pugh and a single run was taken off the first ball, the third ball of the over saw Pugh claim a fourth wicket – that left the score 67-8 with Penzance needing four runs and Bradninch two wickets – a single was scrambled and, with two deliveries of his four overs remaining, Pugh steamed in again and, another single was scrambled- 69-8 with one ball of the 16th over to be delivered – two runs to win for one side, to wickets to win for the other!
The final ball was a dot ball which left Pugh bowled out – and what a shift! He finished with figures of 4-11 from his four overs!
Over to Raigangar for the 17th over and, with the second ball of the over, a catch held by Dan Hardy meant the contest was going right down to the wire!
Penzance had their last pair at the wicket with their score on 69-9 – needing two to win and Ninch needed just one more wicket!
A wide delivery left the scores tied and a single off the next left the Cornish side the winners – but by the narrowest of margins!
At the end of the day it was a case of ‘so near, so very near’ – what a valiant effort by the mighty Ninch to so nearly defend a total of 70.
Those Ninch bowling figures, topped by the 4-11 from Mitch Pugh and then there was the 3-11 from four sent down by Gary Chappell. Aryan Raigangar’s return was 1-11 from three overs and four balls and Josh Farley sent down the one over, going for nine.