Louth Taveners travelled to Sutton on sea on Sunday to take on Sutton and Graves Park in the group stages of the T20 competition, knowing only the winner would be sure of qualification for the finals day.
In the first match of the day Louth held their nerve after posting only 104 in a low scoring game, to keep Sutton down to just 83 and won by 21 runs thanks to an immaculate display in the field from their bowlers and fielders.
This result meant Louth knew that if they defeated newly crowned league champions Graves Park, they would qualify for finals day automatically rather than having to hope to qualify as the best second place of the three groups.
However, Louth captain Zubair Ahmed lost the toss and his team were asked to bat first by Graves Park skipper Martin Hodgson. This decision looked to be a wise one when Graves Park opening bowler Maskell bowled one of the Louth opening batsmen with just the second ball of the match to leave them 2-1.
The innings though began to flow nicely after that with Louth’s other opener Laurence Scott making particularly light work of the bowling before the next wicket fell in the sixth over with the score on 44-2. This brought Zeeshan Ahmed to the crease with Scott. Scott was the aggressor of the pair as he advanced to his 50 off just 25 balls before being trapped LBW to Graves Park skipper Hodgson just two balls later for 51.
Imran Cheema came to the crease and began to launch into the bowling during his cameo of 24 off just 13 balls including hitting three sixes in one over. During this partnership, Ahmed began to get going and destroyed the bowling all round the ground with the help of new partner Phil Nicholson. Ahmed hit six sixes and five fours in his innings of 83 not out off just 48 balls, as no Graves Park bowler could stem the flow of runs as Louth finished with a mammoth 186 off their 20 overs.
After the interval Graves Park began their thundering pursuit of the Louth total with openers Chris King and Griffiths. They hit the ball venomously throughout their innings and put on 75 for the first wicket before Griffiths was bowled for 33 after just 10.2 overs, including one four and three sixes.
Imran Cheema was the only bowler to be truly economical as he finished with outstanding figures of 4-0-23-0 as he played a major role in slowing the skyrocketing Graves Park run rate.
King though was still there and he continued to power on at a furious rate and was ably supported by number three batsman Ashton, who made 21.
However once Ashton was removed by Nicholson with the score on 135 it was left to King to continue the onslaught alone.
Graves Park were strangled towards the end of their innings, in particular by Zubair Ahmed who bowled his first three overs for 3-0-15-0 as he finished with the impressive figures of 4-0-30-1. King hit eight fours and five sixes in his innings of 107 not out as he struck the ball phenomenally hard.
King’s innings however, ultimately proved in vain as Graves Park finished eight runs short of their opponents total on 178. Louth therefore were assured of their place in finals day to be played on September 14 at Skegness, where they will hold high hopes of winning both their semi final and the final. Thanks to ball sponsor Richard Garbutt.