Despite another brilliant hundred from Sarmad Bhatti Walmley slipped to a five wicket Warwickshire Premier League defeat at the hands of local rivals Sutton Coldfield.
The Pakistani ace followed up his match-winning unbeaten ton against defending champions Stratford with an equally outstanding unbeaten 115 at Rectory Park.
With opener James Bristow contributing 60 this enabled the visitors to post a target of 287, but on a day which proved testing for both sides’ bowlers the hosts then put together an impressive run chase.
This was led by a half-century from opener Tom Eustace and finished by a fine unbroken 121-run sixth wicket alliance between Jack Smith and home skipper Lee Thomason who finished with a superb unbeaten 103.
Walmley captain Jon Newis said two dropped catches proved crucial to the outcome on a superb Rectory Park pitch.
“We dropped Lee when he had 40-odd and also put down a chance from Jack in the early stages of his innings and ultimately that proved very costly,” he said.
“It was a great game of cricket – to have nearly 600 runs scored in April is incredible and it is very hard to lose after putting 287 on the board.
“Both side’s batters did really well, and Sammy (Bhatti) played another incredible innings for us. His temperament and control is something you don’t see very often in club cricket – he’s a class act.
“I thought Sutton’s bowlers held their disciplines slightly better than we did and they probably deserved to win as a result.”
Following the early losses of Callum Herron and Dan Bromley, Bhatti joined Bristow in a 130-run third wicket partnership.
And when the opener’s 109-ball knock came to an end, Walmley’s overseas star enjoyed some equally good support from Sachin Dubb then Peter Shackleford.
Dubb’s even-time 33 containing five boundaries played a key role in their 51-run fourth wicket stand before Shackleford, who hit two sixes and five fours, smashed a 22-ball 39.
In a repeat of his heroics against Stratford seven days earlier, Bhatti also accelerated hard in the closing stages which saw 61 runs scored from the final five overs of the visitors’ innings.
The 30-year-old Pakistani star faced 110 balls, finding the boundary 13 times and clearing it twice in his fine knock.
Felix Haines and Amaan Farooq claimed two wickets apiece for Sutton whose response was led by a 50-run opening stand between Amir Shabir (20) and Eustace.
With Jamie Hall (2-41) and Butt (2-39) making inroads, the home batting line-up appeared to face an uphill task when the dismissal of Aaron Thomason left their chase at 123 for four.
However, Raul Ram and Lee Thomason steadied the ship while adding 46 for the fifth wicket before the arrival of Smith saw Sutton gradually seize the initiative.
Sutton’s wicket-keeper finished with an unbeaten 41-ball 48, but it was their captain’s outstanding 92-ball unbeaten 103 containing 12 boundaries that steered the hosts over the line in the 49th over.
Words – Paul Smith (Stumped4Words)
Picture – Paul Devine
Video – Neil Guinivan