Petersfield Cricket Club’s second team crashed to a comprehensive 129-run defeat at Portsmouth Community in Division 5 South East of the Hampshire Cricket League.
Petersfield skipper Steve Gibson lost the toss.
The visitors were asked to field first, but Gibson (two for 48) quickly dismissed openers Grant Bauchop (two) and John Creamer (four) in consecutive overs. Both batsmen perished to identical in-swingers.
Portsmouth Community began to rebuild against Oscar Walker, Tom Horwood and Archie Maclean’s bowling.
Batsmen Dave Going and Matt Davies ran well between the wickets to overcome a sluggish outfield.
Going and Davies then began to counter-attack, punishing anything short or wide.
The pair were well-adapted to the pace and bounce of Cockleshell’s all-weather pitch, a marked contrast to the waterlogged, slow-and-low wickets most teams across Hampshire have been forced to make their pre-season preparations on.
The introduction of Fergus Maclean (one for 20) and Suraj Sashidharan (two for 21) got Petersfield back into the game, with F Maclean castling Going for a well-compiled 81.
Sashidharan proved himself to be the pick of the bowlers, creating dot-ball pressure with a tight line and length before being rewarded with the wickets of Davies (26) and Abey Cherain (eight).
Matt Barber (two) came and went, spectacularly run out at the non-striker’s end by a quick-thinking Gibson on patrol at mid-off.
Petersfield’s pace-off approach continued to bring rewards with the introduction of Richard Lack (two for 26), who bowled Kalim Shiraz (17) and had Jack Whiteaway overbalancing for wicketkeeper Keane Farley’s first stumping of the season.
Having worked hard to wrestle momentum back from the opposition, Petersfield’s second team were unlucky to meet a rampaging Ninad Gokhale (38 not out).
He provided a devastating onslaught at the tail end of the innings to badly hurt the figures of Petersfield’s tiring bowlers, raise the spirits of his team-mates watching from the boundary, and give Portsmouth Community a solid first-innings score of 212 for eight at the end of their allotted 40 overs.
Knowing the opposition to be an excellent bowling side, Petersfield’s batsmen knew they would have their work cut out in their reply.
Petersfield’s innings got off to a shaky start with Gokhale (three for 12) – apparently unsatisfied with his batting exploits – bowling opener James Longland for a duck in the first over of the innings.
Horwood (11) joined Farley (eight) in the middle, and the two began solidly against some sharp bowling by Gokhale and Shiraz (two for 19).
Shiraz picked up the prized scalp of Horwood, and in the next over Gokhale got Farley with an excellent delivery.
Gibson provided some much-needed composure as wickets tumbled around him.
Tom Stratford-Tuke and F Maclean fell for ducks in quick succession to leave Petersfield adrift at 41 for five at the halfway stage.
Change bowlers Cherain (one for 18) and Neal Dobson bowled tight spells to keep the pressure on the visitors.
David Longland was dismissed by Cherain for four, before Joe Bryant (three for nine) sent Sashidharan (two) on his way back to the pavilion.
Bryant trapped Gibson leg before wicket for 31, leaving Walker and A Maclean (six) too much to do with too few wickets in hand.
Whiteaway (one for eight) soon accounted for A Maclean, and Bryant castled Lack (one) to put the cherry atop a fine bowling performance by Portsmouth Community.
Petersfield were bowled out for 83 in the 34th over.
Petersfield still took plenty of positives from the game – Gibson’s form with bat and ball, Sashidharan’s control in the middle overs, and a tidy effort by all in the field – but there’s real work to be done before this Saturday’s away game against Purbrook’s third team.
The match was played in a friendly but competitive spirit, with Portsmouth Community – particularly their contingent of pace bowlers – demonstrating the skill and intensity which won promotion last year.