Match report: Grimsby Town suffer four-wicket defeat at Grantham

Grimsby Town Market Deeping match report

Match report: Grimsby Town suffer four-wicket defeat at Grantham

Grimsby Town Cricket Club are still to win away from home this season after losing by four wickets at Grantham on Saturday.

Town’s captain Steve Crossley continued his good form with the bat, as he top scored with 89 from 104 balls, but his side lost with 11 balls remaining.

Grimsby won the toss at Gorse Lane and with the pitch used before and very dry, they batted first on a hot and sunny day.

Grantham’s skilful opening bowler Muhammad Kaleem had Neal Snell caught behind for one in the third over and Toby Blake (7) followed five overs later, caught at point by Qundeel Haider off-spinner Zain Abbas.

Kaleen then slanted a ball across left-hander Kasun Ekanayake who, aiming to drive through the covers, was well caught by Usman Minhas at second slip for one.

This brought Crossley to the crease and he played in his usual positive fashion. On a turning pitch, he refused to let the spinners get on top, using his feet well, sweeping when given the opportunity and pulling any short deliveries through the leg side.

Crossley hit two huge sixes over the leg-side boundary and struck eight fours. But he was unable to form any significant partnerships, as wickets fell regularly at the other end.

Andrew White (10) added 45 runs for the fifth wicket with Crossley in 11 overs, with Town reaching 107 for four in the 26th over. White was caught by Haider at point as he tried to attack spinner Bilal Hussain. Crossley himself should have been caught by the same fielder, but he was dropped on 66 off medium pacer Dhruv Shahi.

Liam Redmond (15) was unlucky to fall LBW to Ahmed Raza when he appeared to have hit the ball to fine leg. Crossley fell LBW too, 11 runs short of his century, as he went back to a delivery from off-spinner Abbas and was trapped in front. This left Grimsby 174 for eight in the 42nd over.

Grimsby were disappointed not to bat their overs, as they were bowled out for 189 with 35 balls still remaining.

Off-spinner Abbas took three for 50 from his 10 overs and there were two wickets each for left-arm spinner Nauman Abid and opening bowler Kaleem.

Grantham’s captain, left-hander Aqib Afzaal, opened the batting and set his stall out to bat through. He showed great patience and composure as he resisted the Grimsby attack, making an undefeated 64 from 135 balls.

There was little in the pitch for the seamers, but Hayden Tice had opening batsman Shahi (13) caught by the diving Dennis Buirman at slip. Tice should have had a second wicket, with Buirman dropping new batsman Haider before he had got off the mark.

After this early lapse, Haider began to time the ball well and was looking dangerous as he made 25 off 39 balls. He was very unfortunate to be given out caught at slip by Buirman, who claimed a catch off Redmond.

Abbas and D’ahri Hughes-Francis both came in and looked to attack Town’s spinners, but both fell to Andrew White as the off-spinner took two for 36 from his 10 overs.

With Grantham 136 for five in the 38th over, Town were still in the game, but 16-year-old Usman Minhas came in to support his captain and ease any nerves the home side had.

Left-hander Minhas, who is a top-order batsman for Nottinghamshire U16s, batted very positively and struck five fours as he made 31 from only 29 balls. His innings came to an end when he mishit a short ball from Dan Cliffe, who returned to test him with some quicker deliveries and had him well caught by Rory Ronaldson.

Grimsby, as usual, didn’t give up without a fight and battled to the end. Their spin bowlers were economical, but the visitors were unable to match the ground fielding of their opponents.

Aqib Afzaal was not to be shifted. He was joined by his brother Usman Afzaal, a former first-class player who played three test matches for England. It was Usman, the Grantham coach, who hit the winning runs to see his side claim victory.

Report by David Evans

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