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Stourbridge reach Floodlit T20 final after night of drama
11:41pm Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in Sport
A STUNNING win over Wolverhampton saw Stourbridge qualify for the final of the Black Country Floodlit Twenty20 competition.
Stour went into the final round of group games bottom of the standings but kicked off an evening of drama at Stourbridge Road with a five wicket win against the defending champions.
Hosts Himley’s win over Brewood in the evening’s second game saw them top the group, with Stour coming second on net run rate.
The two teams will now face off in Friday’s showpiece final for the JW Brandrick Trophy as they bring to an end a thrilling week of cricket.
More than 600 runs and too many sixes to count, this was another nail-biting evening in a competition which had served up plenty of thrills and spills over the first two nights.
After narrow defeats in their first two games, Stour went into the game with Wolverhampton as big underdogs and were set a tough target by their opponents, who made 156-8 from their 15 overs. Audy Alexander was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-25.
Their task looked even harder when openers Steve Game (8) and Josh Banks (6) were dismissed cheaply early in the reply.
Wolves probably felt momentum had well and truly swung their way when the dangerous Alexander, whose 20 included three huge sixes, was the third wicket to fall with the score on 52.
But they hadn’t reckoned on the power of Milford Hall’s overseas star Jeff Goninan, guesting for Stour, who turned the game in his side’s favour with a blistering innings.
He raced past 50 in just 17 balls, at one stage three consecutive sixes off the bowling of a visibly shaken Alan Chapman.
Having moved Stour into a winning position, he was the fifth wicket to fall with 45 runs still required but Richard Bradley (28 not out) and Alex Bingham (16 not out) held their nerve to steer their side home with eight balls to spare.
The result meant Wolves were definitely out and left Stour knowing they would make the final if Himley, victorious in their opening two games, beat Brewood.
That proved no easy task from the moment the latter’s overseas star Morne Heynke had Himley opener Nathan Round caught behind for a second ball duck.
IPL star Rajat Bhatia once again proved the anchor of the home side’s innings, crafting a patient 57 not out while Waqas Ahmed (47) and skipper Stuart Wedge (25) provided the fireworks in a final total of 171-5.
Brewood slipped to 48-3 early in their reply and the target looked well beyond their reach.
But the Shropshire side have been the tournament’s entertainers and once again ensured the game went to the final over. Chris Pearce kept them in it with 56, before Heynke helped blast 23 off the penultimate over, bowled by Wedge.
With 18 required off the final six balls Brewood sniffed a famous win. But Himley were able to call on the experience and cool head of Bhatia, who had Heynke trapped LBW on route to ensuring a 11 run win and with it Stourbridge’s place in the final.