A BRILLIANT innings of 98 from Pakistani pro Ali Zaryab steered Kenilworth Wardens to a Birmingham Premier League Division One winning draw over Barnt Green, writes Paul Smith.
The left-hander’s sensational 48-ball knock enabled the hosts to post an extremely competitive 181 for six from their rain-reduced 22-over allocation.
And after losing star man Ed Pollock in Tommy Rex’s opening over, the visitors responded with 102 for seven.
Claiming 17 points from the draw represented quite a turn-around for a Wardens side who were bowled out for just 41 when the two teams last met in Worcestershire on the opening day of the season.
And on a rain-ravaged day when only Shrewsbury – who beat Kidderminster by three wickets – managed to claim a 20-point return this useful haul of points pushes the Glasshouse Park outfit back into the top five of the table.
After losing the toss on a pitch which had been covered throughout most of the previous 24 hours in addition to the three hours of time lost directly prior to play commencing, the home side soon slipped to 32 for three against Andy Sutton.
Barnt Green’s veteran seamer had ripped through Wardens’ batting line-up in April, and in perfect bowling conditions he once again proved a real handful while sending back in-form openers Jamie Harrison and Henry Cullen plus Nick Seagar in a seven-over spell which returned 3-44.
However, acting captain Zaryab was quickly into his stride and in the company of Josh Baker – released by Worcestershire to represent his club side for a second time this season – he added 80 runs for the hosts’ fourth wicket.
Fittingly, with Indian ace Sitanshu Kotak, who spent 20 years as Wardens’ club pro, an interested onlooker, Zaryab went on to dominate the closing stages of the home side’s innings. In all he struck nine fours and seven sixes in his scintillating knock before being run out from the penultimate delivery of the innings.
This left Barnt Green chasing 181 and the home side’s hopes received a huge boost when Rex and Hugo Whitlock (2-21) dismissed the visitors’ Worcestershire opening pair Pollock and Jacques Banton with only 19 on the board.
With Baker (1-26) providing economical support, the home attack went on to claim wickets at regular intervals. However, with Ben Chapman-Lilley making a solid unbeaten 53 from 63 balls the visitors never looked in any danger of being bowled out.
Rex, who struck twice in his second spell, finished with 4-51 from seven aggressive overs.