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Dowling is the hero as Brailsford pull off big run chase

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 27, 2014

  • Brailsford captain Matt Dowling bowls (main picture) but it was with the bat that he came up trumps with a brilliant 161 not out to lead his side to a remarkable victory. Other pictures, from top, show Wirksworth's Aarfan Janjua pulling on his way to a century, Brailsford opening bowler Johan Van Niekerk and Dowling beating the outside edge of Wirksworth opener Jack Ritchie's bat.

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MATT Dowling played a real captain's innings as Brailsford found a stunning batting performance in their battle to avoid relegation from Division Three.

Dowling blasted 161 not out from 144 balls, with 18 fours and four sixes as his side chased down a mammoth 277-4 set by second-placed Wirksworth, for whom both Anthony Woolley (138) and Aarfan Janjua (105) made centuries, the pair putting on 207 for the third wicket.

The game had started well for Brailsford after Woolley chose to bat first upon winning the toss.

Jack Ritchie could not get the ball away and was out to Dowling for a 21-ball duck, by which time his opening partner, Dayle White, had holed out at mid on off Johan Van Niekerk.

However, from 13-2, Woolley and Janjua took over and there was no respite for the Brailsford bowlers.

Soon after both were out, Woolley declared with 43 overs gone, giving his side an extra three overs to bowl.

Given how badly Brailsford have chased targets in recent weeks, it did not look a bad decision but those three overs were to prove crucial.

Only Dowling himself, whose seven overs had cost only 25, and Callum Fisher, who got both the centurions out and took 2-26 from six overs, could reflect happily on their bowling figures.

Dowling and Alex Park began the chase steadily, putting on 76 for the first wicket, before Park was out leg before for 39.

Fisher was then out for six, although Dowling had moved from 30 to 64 while he was in.

Brailsford had on 118-1 at the halfway point with plenty to do, although Dowling was going well.

He and Duncan Player rotated the strike sensibly and moved the score on to 174 when Player was out for 20.

Dowling, on 97 at that point, reached his century in the 38th over but Brailsford were still behind the clock.

However, the 39th over, from Jack Allen, who had been economical up to that point, proved crucial, as it yielded 29 runs.

Dowling hit three fours and two sixes and was helped by five wides.

It left Brailsford looking at 70 to win from the last 10 overs before Dowling lost Kev Glover at 221.

In came Scott Matthews, playing only his second first-team game of the season, and he did not let his captain down.

Matthews saw off the last over from South African pace bowler Sinethmeba Mjekula, before running well with Dowling to move Brailsford towards the target.

With over remaining, 45 were needed and Matthews hit two boundaries in consecutive overs, bringing it down to 27 from three overs.

Dowling passed past 150 and clipped a six over square leg as they collected eight from the 47th over and then 10 from the next over to leave six required from the last over.

When Dowling hit the first ball for four back past the bowler it eased the pressure and after he ran a single, Matthews hit the winning run with three balls to spare

Matthews ended with 22 not out from 19 balls

With three to be relegated from Division Three, this was a massive win for Brailsford – all the more so with the news that two of the other strugglers, Denby seconds and Swarkerstone seconds, also took a maximum 27 points.

The battle looks set to go to the final day and Brailsford continue it on Saturday with a visit to Shipley Hall, four points ahead of them.

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