3s beat clock by a minute to complete thrilling chase
By Antony Ireland
Bhat anchors with 74 before lower order blast 3s to victory
Having enjoyed a record 10th wicket partnership of 63 the week before, the shoe was on the other foot for the Llamas this week as Ashtead recovered from 156-9 to post 212 in 54.3 overs. The Llamas were desperate for a win having drawn their last four, but had only 45 overs, or until 6.50pm to knock off the runs.
Earlier in the day, Callum Gurbutt (3-28 from 12 overs) had bowled two of the spells of the season to chip away at Ashtead's batting, masterfully using the St Alban's Rd slope and making a succession of batsmen look rather silly. Jacob McLoughlin (3-42 from 9.3) was also a constant threat while Srikanth Vuppala (3-33 from 13) bowled with great control and could have taken more if edges had fallen more kindly, and the home side were on top for the vast majority of the first innings, having inserted Ashtead at the toss.
The tail, however, wagged annoyingly well, and the Llamas went into tea concerned that another draw may be on the cards.
Ashwin Bhat, back from uni, continued where he left off last year, compiling a mature and classy 74 to anchor the chase, putting on 84 for the opening wicket as Srikanth again was in the runs - this time falling for 43. It was then a case of contributions from all but the skipper (pre-occupied with entertaining his family who were enjoying a boozy picnic on the boundary) to get the Llamas close to the target.
Jordan Bunyan accumulated 22, the hobbling Nick Rotsey biffed a quick 17, McLoughlin added 14, but with the clock ticking down and Ashtead doing all they could to ensure they bowled no more than the minimum amount of overs, victory appeared to be slipping away.
However, Manoj Rajarethinam and Tom Guise batted brilliantly to get the job done just in the nick of time, picking their moments to hit the bad ball to the boundary. Manny's 15 from 8 balls included the shot of the century - a deft dab for four through backward point when all but the big overseas were expecting a massive biff over long on. Guisey also slashed three excellent boundaries in his 16 from 13 balls on return to LlamaLand, sealing a nerve-jangling win with the clock bang on 6.50.
A great result and team effort, with the Llamas showing fine ticker and composure in the latter stages. With Banstead visiting this week, hopefully we can make it two in a row and begin our ascent up the table.