This week’s MDL match against Winchmore Hill was must win for both sides if either was to have any chance of qualifying out of ‘the group of death’ and proceeding in the tournament. The last game between the two sides had been an enthralling encounter, with Stokey managing to defend a paltry 99 thanks to some awesome bowling from the boys in black. Needless to say it was an excitable bunch who journeyed north to the hill at Winchmore, all eager to prove that we don’t just compete against the famous clubs in north London, we can beat them too.
Stoke Newington got there early and straight away got in the nets whilst Captain Zabehullah Mohammad strolled out to the middle hoping the coin fell favourably for him. It did and he won the toss asking the opposition to have a bat on a green tinged pitch with a slope akin to a famous wicket in St Johns Wood.
Stoke Newington had just enough time to gather round in a circle and listen to the Skip divulge some pearls of wisdom before the umpires and the opposition openers were out in the middle. Zabeh opened the bowling with Irfan Mohmand and both of them bowled with great control in the early phases of the game. Despite this, Stoke Newington were to find out the hard way that the pitch which initially looked so green, was in fact, flatter than the M1. Patience pays off however and after a while Irfan found the edge and the chance was taken behind the stumps by stand in keeper Aamir Mapara. Soon after Irfan had another, trapping the remaining opener LBW and bringing to the crease Winchmore Hills answer to Ben Stokes, a tattooed ginger nut who insisted on smashing the ball whenever he hit it. With Stokes at the crease Winchmore Hill began to rebuild their innings, Ishaq Rakheel replaced Zabeh and straight away settled into a good line, he struggled however against two batsman who were giving nothing away. Meanwhile from the other end the opposition batsman were to face trial by spin, with Khpalwak Zazai coming onto bowl.
The score rattled along with Stokey Newington unable to stem the flow of runs. Chances were dropped and tempers flared and suddenly the scoreboard read 143-2. Captain Zabeh then turned to young gun Hamza Omar who bowled with alarming speed for someone with such a low centre of gravity. The bowling changed did the trick, with Hamza taking two wickets in quick succession, bringing to the crease two new batsman. Runs began to dry up with Stoke Newington working their way into a position of dominance until one six into the tennis courts was followed another, which in turn was followed by one more. And so, as quickly as it had started Stokeys advantage had disappeared, the momentum of the match once again shifting. Aamir Mopara, who had had enough of wicket keeping then got the ball in his hand and bowled with some control, despite the fact that catches were being dropped. With 39.5 overs bowled and one ball of the innings to go Winchmore Hill were on a formidable 222 which quickly turned to 226 as their number 9 ramped Irfan over his head for four runs to finish the innings in style. Stokey left the field a little bit bruised and battered, but still hopeful that victory could be achieved.
Zabehullah Mohammad – 12. 1.51.1
Irfan Mohmand- 7. 1.50.3
Ishaq Rakheel- 22.214.171.124
Khpalwak Zazai- 10. 1. 68.1
Hamza Omar- 5. 1. 22. 2
Aamir Mopara 3.0. 7. 1
Tea was a cagey affair with both sides refusing to acknowledge the others presence. Soon it was over, and Robert Chadwick and Sarafat Ali strode to the middle looking to see off the new ball and lay a strong foundation for the run chase. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be, with Robert missing a straight one in the first over. Wickets continued to fall and suddenly things got very bad, very quickly. It wasnt until Hamza was joined by Aamir that any hope of victory was rekindled. They gritted it out and slowly, surely, momentum began to swing back in our favour. Once the two had got in they started playing their shots, and, to be fair, they had to. The run rate was now above and beyond 8 an over and with the big boundaries at Winchmore Hill, this was no joke. Hamza played a collection of classy sweeps/ reverse sweeps whilst at the other end, Aamir relied on power and timing, smashing the ball out of the ground and onto the surrounding roofs not just once, but twice. Hamza, then on 43 but somehow believing himself to be on more than that, smashed a six and celebrated a 50 that didn’t exist. He was then out two overs later for 49, chasing a wide one.
Captain Zabeh was the next man in and ensured that Stokeys run rate didn’t drop. He smashed a six and ran between the wickets like a madman, turning ones into twos and piling the pressure on a fielding side that was visibly panicking. Aamir reach his fifty and celebrated by smashed a ball to mid-off so hard that he ended up hospitalising the fielder. There was a brief pause in which Winchmore Hill regained their composure. After the break Aamir was adjudged LBW which proved the catalyst to a mini collapse Samir coming and going without troubling the scorers. The wickets slowed the scoring and suddenly Stokey were behind the eight ball. 36 was required off the last 4 overs but momentum was once again dragging Stoke Newington towards defeat. One big over was required to change the course of the game. Luckily Ash Patel, seemingly unperturbed by the chaos around him, calming smashed two sixes in a quickfire 18. It looked like victory was now assured with Stoke Newington winning at a canter. However once more the tides changed. Two wickets off two balls left Stokey 9 down but still needing 6 runs off the last over. Singles were scampered and the equation became 3 needed off two balls. Ishaq then hit one back at the bowler and Stokeys hearts dropped momentarily dropped. The ball went in his hands was fumbled once, twice and then dropped. The crowd were going ballistic. Cigarettes were being chain smoked, voices were going horse, the whole game had boiled down to this moment. Either the batsman or the bowler was about to become a club hero. The whole ground fell silent, even Zazai stopped shouting. Cars driving past the ground had stopped in the middle of the road to watch events unfold. The ball was bowled slightly full of a length and, with a nod to the final ball of their innings, Irfan Mohmand, got down on one knee and scooped the ball over his head for four. Unbelievable scenes. He ran off the pitch arms aloft and was met by a jubilant Stoke Newington still disbelieving of what they had just witnessed. There were high fives and hugs a plenty before the two teams lined up to shake hands, knowing that they had all been part of one of the great games of cricket.
Robert Chadwick- 0
Sarafat Ali- 18
Ijaz Mandjra- 12
Khpalwak Zazai- 14
Hamza Omar- 49
Aamir Mapara- 53
Zabehullah Mohammad- 38
Samir Mohammad- 0
Ash Patel- 18
Irfan Mohmand- 6*
Ishaq Rakheel- 2*
The win means that Stoke Newington are still in the running to qualify, against all the odds, from the group of death. A true underdog’s story whose next chapter will be played out on Sunday against Southgate down at Hackney Marsh. We are all very excited.